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Thread: Protecting Character Idea

  1. #1
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    Default Protecting Character Idea

    Maybe this is being a bit presumptuous, but I designed my own singing character this year and I think it's something several of the businesses around here might be interested in. It could use some refinement. My first model is made of Plas-tex, doesn't have the outline shape cut out (just a rectangular piece), and isn't painted, but it works quite well. Not that I see myself making lots of money off of it, but potentially I could make some, and I would like to protect the idea from someone else making money off of it. Especially after the pain that I put into the thing! Pushing 315 pixels into Plas-tex with 3/8 inch holes is torturous! Does anyone know what I would do or if it would be worth it? Would I copyright it? Trademark it? Patent it?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Protecting Character Idea

    I could be completely off base but I would hazard to guess that any company could slightly modify any design or implementation you come up with and copy the heck out of it.

    If you do plan on get a trademark/patent, I highly suggest to not display it until you get then. What has been seen, canít be unseen.

    (Excited to see what youíve come up with. Creativity is dying in this hobby!)

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Protecting Character Idea

    I hope it doesn't disappoint! It is something that is a bit uniquely appropriate for the area where I live.

    I have a feeling you're right about small modifications. And I wouldn't be able to afford any kind of legal fight in any case. Probably not worth the trouble, but I thought I'd see if anyone has experience with such a thing.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Protecting Character Idea

    Artistic works are usually copywritten, not patented. Trademarks are the association of an image or phrase with a business and doesn't really apply here. Copyright actually exists by default upon creation. But not enforceable until it's officially registered. It's cheap and easy to copyright something. And Though the usefulness of it is only worth what you're willing to fight to protect it.

    You might be better off trying to preemptively license the design to the companies you think might use the design. That starts the conversation with them, and begs them to ask you to see the design. Which of course you only do if they sign an NDA. Now you have written agreement that you've shown it to them and they won't use it without permission. That's even easier to enforce. But again, only worth what you're willing to put into the fight.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Protecting Character Idea

    A utility patent starts at $15k, and $250k to prosecute infringement. Design patents just aren't done that often.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Protecting Character Idea

    Thanks for the information! Maybe I should just see what happens. The idea would work great here, but then the businesses would have to be interested in doing light shows in the first place.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Protecting Character Idea

    you can file for a provisional patent, around $100 (or it was years ago). This gives you a year to do the full patent. Lots of work to do this, have to justify the ROI. Sometimes a company, who wants to replicate what you did for one-off things might just ask you to do it, its not worth it to them unless it becomes a high volume product. Maybe even put contact info on the character saying if your interested in this, email x@x.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Protecting Character Idea

    My comment is ... maybe not the best forum to ask about this in as this community is built on sharing and copying. While there is some copyright stuff and proprietary stuff created, I would just freely share what I have done and let those interested try to make it better themselves. Unless it is the idea that starts your business, no need to protect it. But then don't share it! You could always assert copyright and get lawyer friends to write nasty grams to people but actually fighting it is not worth it. BTW, we have seen this play out in this hobby over the years multiple times. It is not comfortable for those of us on the sidelines - can't imagine how bad it is for those in the middle of it.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Protecting Character Idea

    I've created a few singing faces and prop designs myself and have thoughts about this as well. Especially when you see your props remixed with no credit given. The best solution to keep it yours is just not to publish it. On the other hand, all of these props would be pretty useless without Vixen or xLights and the community of people that put these software packages together. I can write code, but I don't have the time to get invested in the applications so I look at it as a way to give back to the community. And of course there will be those venders that take the ideal to a marketable coro prop and sell them. But they are also selling a physical product and not a virtual file. I could be wrong but I don't think any of the vendors are really getting rich off props. it's the Chinese light companies that mass produce the Christmas lighting products making most of the profits, and they don't usually respect any copywrites to begin with. If it looks profitable, they will make it anyway (with some cheap twist.)

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Protecting Character Idea

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeKrebs View Post
    My comment is ... maybe not the best forum to ask about this in as this community is built on sharing and copying. While there is some copyright stuff and proprietary stuff created, I would just freely share what I have done and let those interested try to make it better themselves. Unless it is the idea that starts your business, no need to protect it. But then don't share it! You could always assert copyright and get lawyer friends to write nasty grams to people but actually fighting it is not worth it. BTW, we have seen this play out in this hobby over the years multiple times. It is not comfortable for those of us on the sidelines - can't imagine how bad it is for those in the middle of it.
    That is true, but this is the forum to discuss what exactly constitutes fair use. If you download from Napster and sequence it in Xlights, is that fair use? (that's an example--I'm not literally asking)

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