Several issues have surfaced recently that I feel need to be discussed.
Knowledge is power and you need to use that to protect yourself.
We know you'll find the following information helpful.
One-of-a-Kind. (OOAK) What does that really mean when you are using the same pattern for all your bears, yet each looks completely different?
Over the years, you've enlarged and reduced your original pattern, as you enjoy the look of your bear from the pattern you designed.
Technically, when you are using the same pattern, making various size bears, using different color of furs, then the piece can still be a OOAK within a Limited Edition or a Special Edition.
If you use the same pattern and the bear is completely accessorized with items you can no longer purchase, or the fabric is vintage and you can no longer buy any more, you can say that the creation is definitely One-of-a-Kind.
But if you make the same bear 5 or 6 times, then we advise you to call the bears 'Special Editions' or say nothing on the hang tag.
The true definition of a OOAK is: you make one pattern, one bear and then destroy that pattern. It then truly is a one-of-a-kind!
A collector adores one of your bears while at a show. They do not purchase it and they come back to buy the bear and it has been adopted! At this time they might ask you to make another.
Often artists do not wish to make a similar bear because to get the same fabrics, accessories and facial expressions can be challenging. The artists may tell the collector they'll make another bear that the collector might like, using the same fabric; sending photos in hopes of a sale.
The pressure is then off you to replicate the exact same bear. You are the artist and you have a creative hand in a new bear design or style, even with the suggestions from the collector.
Commission work can be tricky and we advise you to put everything in writing and mentioning that you are the artist with a free hand in the design, creating the finished piece as you see fit, and all design rights, copyright for any pattern modifications, remain yours.
What you are trying to avoid is using one of your established, copyrighted patterns with modification solely for the commissioned piece requiring then that pattern should be retired. It should be made clear to the person that you will continue to make and sell this modified pattern piece, unless an exclusive contract has been written and you still will hold the rights to the newly designed piece.
Winnie the Pooh
Click to see the feature story in Bears&Buds
Several teddy bear artists were anticipating the expiration of copyrights for the Milne's Winnie the Pooh characters after 75 years, or at least by 2006 (death + 50 years), so they could legally design creations favoring these character and to sell them.
Then in 1998 the Copyright Term Extension Act was passed, so artists making Pooh animals were in jeopardy of being sued by Disney.
The act included U.K. authors, and Disney had acquired all the Milne copyrights. A coincidence? The act was AKA the Bono Act, also called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act. Disney and his constituent, lobbied heavily for the act.
So poor Eeyore, Pooh and the gang are not in the public domain.
<<< Click on Wikipedia icon to read more about the Act.
With all the recent attacks on web sites by copyright holders wishing to control their property, images and trademarks, we must bring this to your attention.
Bear designers: we wish to warn you of the danger of being sued by Disney or other companies holding character copyrights. Best to leave the Pooh to Disney and create your own look in bears.
Modern software can scan thousands of web sites, searching for words and the trademark/copyright-holding companies and they will take action.
Bright Star Promotions, Inc. will not feature any characters that resemble the Pooh characters, Paddington (Trademark UK00003065434, EU013233457 Paddington world Trademark, TM EU001407568 and Paddington Bear trademark EU000606186), or other popular movie characters. Even if you have changed the name of your creations, if it looks like Winnie the Pooh, it is considered an infringement on a copyright.
Bears&Buds will not knowingly publish artist bears that resemble copyrighted Disney characters either. This goes for any URSA Awards Competition entries.
One of the most recent characters was from the Disney movie "Frozen" and, of course, the characters are so cute and very copyrighted.
"Don't mess with Disney!"
When you go searching the Net for patterned backgrounds, images, designs and even photos to use on your web pages, be sure you use 'free of copyright' designs. Or even better, make your own.
Look carefully at the images, enlarge them to be sure there are not 'ghosts' over the image or that the site you download them from is not selling images.
Names like: ShutterStock, iStock, Unique Images, Quality Stock Fotolia, have imposed their logos over the photographs.
Sample: see the ghost logos within the images:
Look for Royalty Free images; there are plenty when you Google.
If you really love an image; pay for it.
Image prices run from 25¢ to several dollars; some even over $100.00.
Be very careful when downloading images as Getty Images is extorting money from people, accusing them of using their images without compensation, which most images by Getty do not contain copyright logo.
Google is full of articles on how they are harassing web sites owners to pay.
We speak from experience as Getty has tried to get thousands of dollars from us, but they have never proved ownership of the photo in question and it was promptly removed from Bears&Buds the day we received their notice. We, like many others, have refused to pay.
Click this link for more info on the scam: read . . .
Protection for Your Pattern
Copyrights can protect you in other cases, but they are not fool proof.
To give yourself the best protection, we highly suggest that when you create a new pattern, you date the pattern pieces and add the copyright (©) symbol to each piece. Document your work in a notebook along with a photo of the finished creation from the pattern.
If someone copies your bear or design for their own personal use, there is very little you can do about it; you probably will not even know about it.
When a person copies your pattern and then makes a profit by selling it, then your copyright information can be in useful.
Using the copyright symbol is like having a tiny padlock on the door. Honest people will oblige and not open the door but crooks will laugh at the tiny 'padlock' and bust right in!
If you believe your pattern or design has been stolen and used for profit, here are some things you need to consider before taking action.
1. It is nearly impossible for someone to copy your work exactly. We've proven that fact with several contests, where each artist is given the same simple pattern, and all the bears turn out differently.
2. What you need to understand is that pursuing action will cost a lot of money and the burden of proof will fall on you. Do you have lots of money to fight the person 'stealing' your pattern and mass producing it?
In most cases it is best to let it go.
Your hang tags should carry the © symbol and explain that the bear was made from your copyrighted pattern.
Add copyright information at the bottom of each of your web pages too.
Often you find on Bright Star Promotions and Bears&Buds websites, cute animated icons, clip art and background patterns. Many have been designed by our staff while others we buy.
When we link feature articles to Wikipedia, we give them a donation.
Helping each other along the way is very good business.
Copyright © 2005-2015 BearsandBuds.com
DBA: Bright Star Promotions, Inc, 3428 Hillvale Road Louisville, KY 40241 USA
All rights reserved.
Phone/Fax: (502) 423-7827