Protecting My Digital Design

18 replies
Hi, I created a digital design that I have available on some print-on-demand sites, where people can order it on a t-shirt, mug, sticker, etc.

I want to promote it more, also want to protect it from being copied. May not be something people want to copy, but, just in case, wondering if I ought to get a trademark or copyright or something to protect it.

Anyone have any ideas on this?
#design #digital #protecting
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  • Profile picture of the author superowid
    Put a small sign of your name or unique brand name inside the design. Good luck!
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    I'm learning to draw again ...
    I want to sell my drawing later on!
    Wish me luck, okay?!

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  • Profile picture of the author writeaway
    Mail a copy of the design to yourself

    Under current US copyright law, as long as you can prove that you created the design (by documentation as well as mailing it to yourself-this is deemed 'publication'), that's good enough.

    You don't have to formally file for copyright unlike TRADEMARKS
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    • Profile picture of the author Dan Riffle
      Originally Posted by writeaway View Post

      Mail a copy of the design to yourself

      Under current US copyright law, as long as you can prove that you created the design (by documentation as well as mailing it to yourself-this is deemed 'publication'), that's good enough.

      You don't have to formally file for copyright unlike TRADEMARKS
      Tread carefully here. The Federal Copyright office itself disagrees that the "Poor Man's Copyright" is valid:

      The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a "poor man's copyright." There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.
      https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/f...eral.html#what
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      If you want me to go on arguing, you'll have to pay for another five minutes.

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    • Profile picture of the author cititoru
      Originally Posted by writeaway View Post

      Mail a copy of the design to yourself

      Under current US copyright law, as long as you can prove that you created the design (by documentation as well as mailing it to yourself-this is deemed 'publication'), that's good enough.

      You don't have to formally file for copyright unlike TRADEMARKS
      So if I take Nike logo and mail it to myself I can claim I own it? Pfff...
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  • Profile picture of the author sgalla414
    From what I understand (I have never personally looked into it) trademarks and copyrights are extremely expensive and time consuming. Definitely what writeaway suggested is a good idea but similar to what the other user suggested a watermark across your promo pictures is another idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author tagiscom
    Originally Posted by pranaman View Post

    Hi, I created a digital design that I have available on some print-on-demand sites, where people can order it on a t-shirt, mug, sticker, etc.

    I want to promote it more, also want to protect it from being copied. May not be something people want to copy, but, just in case, wondering if I ought to get a trademark or copyright or something to protect it.

    Anyone have any ideas on this?
    Yes, as someone else mentioned a Trademark is expensive, so unless you have spent your whole life working on it, best not to bother with that one.

    I am on a graphics site, and we had a long discussion about this, with a transparent watermark over the work, and my suggestion of putting your name, etc in an almost invisible (white background, almost white lettering) that no one can see, unless the contrast/brightness or the magic wand tool is used.

    The latest version of Photoshop or the cloud one doesn't have contrast, brightness anymore, so best to go with the magic wand tool, (that shows up anything that is almost invisible).

    Originally Posted by writeaway View Post

    Mail a copy of the design to yourself

    Under current US copyright law, as long as you can prove that you created the design (by documentation as well as mailing it to yourself-this is deemed 'publication'), that's good enough.

    You don't have to formally file for copyright unlike TRADEMARKS
    Yes, that is a good one, if you don't want to patent it, just post two to yourself, seal up the envelepe with wide, clear packing tape, and then get the post office to stamp the date, day, year, etc all over the seal on the envelope so if an attorney takes a look, there is no way it has been opened after the date.

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  • Profile picture of the author savidge4
    look if the idea is to "Protect" your work.. then do just that.. its $35.00 and not such a big deal, you can do it online https://www.copyright.gov/fls/sl35.pdf

    The other suggestion.. just put the © statement on the artwork to start with and 90% of your problems are gone, and later legally... you have a case against "willfull Infringement" which is a bit of a game changer. This is what takes a case from "Stop using my stuff" to " You used my stuff 3000 times? that will be $100 per use please!"
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    Success is an ACT not an idea
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  • Profile picture of the author mariablassingame
    Banned
    If you are supplying these printing shop documents of a high sufficient quality to make good prints, after that there is absolutely nothing you can do to the documents to protect them, other than YOU being there when the files are filled onto their systems as well as YOU being present when the documents are deleted after that. (even after that, erased documents can be recuperated).

    All you can do is to find service bureaus that you can trust and also have a lengthy history of moral ventures. Even after that, you need to keep an eye out for unapproved use of your pictures. NO country worldwide has a force of "Copyright Cops" that goes around seeking copyright infringement. It is always as much as the copyright owners to enforce their very own legal rights. When they locate such unauthorized use, THEY need to initiate whatever legal action they can offer. Disney, for example, can pay for to have armies of investigators and attornies combing the stores and also flea markets for these sort of pirates. While I, for instance, need to take whatever preventative measures I can pay for, and trust to reputable bureaus to appreciate my civil liberties.
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    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
      Originally Posted by mariablassingame View Post

      If you are supplying these printing shop documents of a high sufficient quality to make good prints, after that there is absolutely nothing you can do to the documents to protect them, other than YOU being there when the files are filled onto their systems as well as YOU being present when the documents are deleted after that. (even after that, erased documents can be recuperated).

      Personal presence has no relevance or legal standing whatsoever, nor would it ever be stipulated as legislation in these times when a large majority of business is conducted remotely via the Internet. Even trademark registration doesn't demand personal appearance. Application, Research, Objections and potential fulfilment is done remotely.

      People appear in person in print shops with scores of copyrighted images daily.

      The only aspect that matters is proving oneself as the developer (and subsequently, the publisher) of the intellectual property.
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  • Profile picture of the author Janice Sperry
    "Expensive" is a relative term. A U.S. trademark is only $275. You need to do a trademark search ahead of time and you can do that for free or find a law firm to do it for you for less than $1000.

    Most businesses do not attempt to trademark 'everything' they do. A trademark is for a business name or a slogan and such. If a person plans to expand into a thriving business it can be priceless to protect all the branding you do.

    In most cases, however, follow the reply from savadge4 about copyrighting your intellectual property.
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  • Profile picture of the author GordonJ
    Create a signature in the corner, artists have done it for centuries.

    Copyrights, Trademarks are mostly threats, very costly to defend in a court. Best thing to do is BE THE ARTIST.

    Anyone can paint a soup can, but when you see one, who do you think of? If not Andy Warhol, then it doesn't really matter. Designs, all have a unique look, OWN yours by selling the most of them. I think you are putting the cart before the horse.

    GordonJ
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  • Profile picture of the author Odahh
    maybe i should stay out of this sub forum.. but maybe it just my crazy mindset..

    that the original poste r should be worried about building an audience of people who will but his designs FROM HIM ..even if people copy the designs he should figure out some way that benefits him ..

    the protection strategy was great or good when you had to pay money to get stuff produced and distributed and you didn't want someone else to be able to copy your designs and bid you down ..or get it manufactured cheaper than you and put you out of business ..

    but today if you don't have to get stuff produced untill someone buys ..it's getting people to buy from you an support you buying from you ..but you probably will need to put out new designs on a regualr basis..

    instead of trying to put out one design and milk the #$%# out of it
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    "I just wanted a good job ,but i could not find a good job, So i do it myself"-Jack Ma

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  • Profile picture of the author Janice Sperry
    All three ways to supposedly protect intellectual property have a different purpose and different levels of protection.

    © = Copyright
    ® = Registered copyright
    ™ = Trademark

    It is not rocket science but even among those in the legal profession there can be different interpretations in the application of the law. Unless you have some serious, unique and complicated matters just keep it simple. Everything you need to know is well explained in the Q/A page in the link Dan provided above.
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  • The sad reality is even trademarked or copyrighted images can be stolen. In addition to these, you'll also need to be more diligent when it comes to protecting your designs.Make it a habit to do a reverse image search on the designs you create. Contact the thieves as soon as possible and demand the designs to be taken down. Often times, the threat of a lawsuit is enough to stop them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Robbie789
    A work is copyrighted the moment it is finished without you need to register to a copyright office, be it published or unpublished. That means by default your design is under the protection already. Sadly, even with copyright, there will still be at least one douche attempt to steal it.
    Still, you can filter them out, leaving only the most reckless thieves will attempt to steal your works by watermark over the design, use actual product picture with the design as promotion image instead of showing the design (and watermark that too if you want xD )
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  • Profile picture of the author James McAllister
    Others have already given specific steps you can take, however...

    You're never going to be able to protect it 100%. If it's popular, it will get taken, reused, and resold on other marketplaces.

    My brands take down dozens of listings a week on Amazon from people reselling our designs on their products. Some people use the exact photos, listings, descriptions etc. we've put on other sites!

    Take steps to protect your work of course, but don't get too focused on others. You'll do better worrying about what's next for you, and then handling the thieves as they come.
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  • Profile picture of the author 1stimpression
    I think you want to protect the idea / design as well from being seen originally. Well that is a challenging task, images can be protected with casual watermarks, but when it comes to protecting a design idea, you can try a few things:
    • You can hide the complete design from being displayed and just show a part of design to be visible that is appealing to the users.
    • Or you can upload a blurred version of the design or may be display it in a modified state, being used in combination with something.
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  • Profile picture of the author cccpllc
    Attorney here. Simply by creating the design and putting it into a tangible medium, such as a shirt, you get certain copyright protections by operation of the common law. You do not have to register your copyright for this minimal protection. Registering your copyright merely provides additional layers of protection and remedies. Now, whether or not your design is actually a copyrightable work of authorship is still an open question and can be disputed, but the point remains. Also note that even if you register a copyright, it does not guarantee that the copyright is valid as the USPTO does not review copyrights for validity.

    Similar with trademarks. You can have a trademark by operation of common law as well. Simply put the superscript words "tm" next to the words or image you wish to claim as a trademark. Now, this does not guarantee that what you are claiming as a trademark is in fact trademarkable. But it does put third parties on notice that you are a "claiming" a trademark, and this will provide you with some form of protection. Unlike a registered copyright, if you do register a trademark for a mark or word, it has to be reviewed by USPTO officials for validity and if it is awarded it is very likely to hold up in court as valid. Still, it is not required to be registered, though it is advisable and does provide you additional protection.
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