Thursday, May 17, 2012

Copyright vs. Trademark?

It appears to be a world where you can get held up at the drop of a hat...

An author who has a legal copyright is totally ignored when he or she complains that someone is infringing on a copyright by pirating his or her books...while a huge conglomerate corporation can trademark a person's first name and then start threatening anyone else who possesses the same name.  What seems to be wrong with this picture?

A friend of mine was threatened with legal action simply because her first name supposedly infringed on a trademarked name claimed by a multinational conglomerate. Seems she was infringing on Sony's trademark when she dared to use her REAL LEGAL NAME on a promo for one of her many books. HUH? A lot of us rose up shouting "FOUL" and it went national.  Seems like a company should NOT be allowed to "trademark" a one-word name that is common enough to be in everyday use in the world. I mean, suppose a person decided to trademark the name Shirley. That's pretty silly, because there are literally thousands of Shirleys in the USA alone, and heaven forbid any of these non-trademarked Shirleys use their name on anything!

Names are pretty important stuff to folks. Being told you are not to dare to use your real name promoting books you have written because somebody MIGHT mistake you for that British pop diva (can't even say I ever heard of her until this fiasco arose) is totally absurd.

What on earth makes Sony think that an erotic romance author might be mistaken for a pop singer? And the author was writing and publishing books many years before the singer was even popular.  

I was joking about trademarking my own name on a Facebook post to show how silly people can be...and out of the blue, I got an EXTREMELY nasty message via Facebook from a man named Fran Stambu...if you have delicate sensibilities, please read no further:

Fran Štambu12:36pm May 13

Hmmm...this dude didn't bother to even check out WHY I was thinking about trademarking the name Fran...he just reacted in a typical knee-jerk response as if I were attacking HIS right to use HIS name. Sigh. But then, his reaction would seem to be normal (although a bit nasty) to the idea that someone was making it impossible for him to use his own name.

I read up on trademarking...very interesting stuff. Seems trademarking is meant to protect a person's right to the exclusive use of a product name...but it stipulates that the product name must be significantly different (like Kleenex (tm), Band Aid (tm), Bisquick (tm), etc) than the common name like tissue, latex bandage, or biscuit mix. So that makes me understand that instead of simply trademarking the name "Fran", I must trademark the specific USE of the name, like Fran Lee, Author (tm), or Fran Lee Romance (tm). It also states that you can effectively begin to trademark your desired product name by inserting the (tm) directly behind your name whenever you use it. This is sort of like the intended copyright thingy that happens when you put a book into e-product or print. You can then legally pay several hundred bucks to legally trademark your desired name and only then can use use the symbol of a capital R in the center of a circle (R).

So if Sony (R) wanted to trademark their diva's single name, they should have done it like this: Adele, Pop Diva for Sony Entertainment (R) instead of just her first name, which has about 4,000 users in the USA today. (Ooops...USA Today (R)).

So don't worry Mr. Stambu...I will not take your right to use your name away like Sony would...unless you decide to change your last name to Lee and start writing hot romance.