The industries, especially apparel in the present era is being hit by an unpleasantly hot trend that leaves several retailers, apparel manufacturers, etc., in a situation where they find themselves trapped in Copyright Infringement cases made by copyright trolls. These are the entities that go after the companies or entrepreneurs by opportunistically enforcing their copyrights to make money in litigation. They employ the strategies that make it difficult for people to defend against infringement claims. In general, their strategies include the following steps:
- First of all, they amass vast libraries or stockpiles of copyrights on an array of fabric prints, even which they may not be producing or licensing for paid distribution.
- After that, they send out shoppers to find merchandise made of fabric that’s identical or similar to their copyrighted fabrics.
Indeed, even the basic fabric prints, including floral, paisley, geometric, and more, can be subject to infringement lawsuits. Once the copyright trolls find something, they retain Intellectual Property Law Firms to send numerous cease and desist letters and to file lawsuits. Since the litigation is risky and expensive, most companies prefer settling them outside the court rather than fighting in front of the judiciary.
For a company, which is continuously adding to its fabrics already including many, legally clearing every suit is not practical and can eat up a lot of its money and time. Hence, apparel-related businesses need to find how to avoid copyright infringement claims by copyright trolls. Besides, they also need to look for what to do to mitigate the damage if a claim is made.
Although the perfect protection is to sell only solid fabrics produced by designing your patterns, which certainly is not realistic, you can still take a few other measures to protect yourself. Some of the steps you can follow to stay safe against copyright trolls are as follows:
- Begin by asking your textile supplier if his/her company possesses an appropriate Copyright Registration for the pattern/ design being considered to be used in your products. You can ask for evidence of the ‘original work’ authorship. In case the supplier has purchased the pattern or design to be sold to you from any third-party, you must demand a statement stating that the original copyright is being transferred to you.
- Obtain a clear indemnification clause and shifts the burden and damages to the supplier in the event of copyright infringement lawsuits. It is a contract under which one party (supplier) commits to compensate the other for any harm arises out of the contract. The promise, by the suppliers to cover your losses if they do something that makes any third-party to sue you, should be in writing.
- Since the policies related to copyright infringement insurance are expensive, people often ignore purchasing their own insurance. You may also be thinking to do so, but note that it is a very small cost to protect yourself and your customers from issues, like infringements, confusions, and monetary losses due to them.
- Prefer using ‘public domain designs.’ These are the designs available without issues of copyright ownership. There are various facilities that maintain libraries consisting of thousands or more prints, which exist in nature or are already in the public domain. You can pick and use any design from these reference materials. Although you cannot copyright that design, still it will keep you out of the courtroom.
- Last but not least, if you are not satisfied with the supplier’s response to your inquiries, then it will be in your best interest to avoid buying the pattern or design from him/ her.
Whether manufacturers or retailers, legitimate companies are in the business of creating products their customers will enjoy and appreciate. On the other hand, copyright trolls are in the business of targeting these legitimate companies, and thus, finding opportunities to file copyright infringement claims and seek monetary settlements. As these types of attacks are difficult to defend against, apparel companies need to be prepared for the circumstances when copyright trolls inevitably rear their ugly heads. Hopefully, the information provided in this blog will prove helpful in preventing you from being targeted by copyright trolls. However, if you still have doubts regarding anything or face any issue, you are advised to have a discussion with an experienced IP attorney. For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com
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