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  • Welcome to Wedding Industry Law Online!

    Wedding Industry Law is your online resource for legal news and education on running a wedding business. We hope you find the articles, videos, and information helpful. If you have any comments, news tips, or areas that you would like to see covered, please let us know!

    Wedding Industry Law is edited by Wedding Lawyer and Trial Attorney Rob Schenk. Contributing blogger Ayisha Lawrence also kicks out some of the jams, too.

    UNFORTUNATELY, WE ARE UNABLE TO RESPOND TO REQUESTS FOR LEGAL ADVICE (sad face).

Can I use a photograph if I give credit to the copyright owner?

matt_editedWell lookey here: We have Intellectual Property attorney and guru Matthew Goings of Goings Legal, LLC guest posting today!

Matthew Goings is the founder of Goings Legal, LLC, a boutique Intellectual Property law firm located in Atlanta, Georgia representing individuals, start-ups, and small businesses in their intellectual property and contract needs. I know what your thinking: “He was a total band geek.” You are absolutely right. During his time as an undergrad at the University of Georgia, he marched tenor saxophone in the Redcoat Marching Band. He was also a member of the Brotherhood of the music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (sounds like one of those secret societies…).

If you have any questions or concerns about your wedding or event business’ trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property, be sure to give him a call.

DISCLAIMER: THIS INFORMATION IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. NEITHER MATTHEW GOINGS NOR ANYONE AFFILIATED WITH THIS SITE IS YOUR LAWYER.

Can I use another wedding vendor’s photograph without their permission? What if I give that vendor attribution?

No. By using another’s image on your own site without their permission, you are violating their rights to reproduction (by making a digital copy) and public display, even if you give attribution.
Even if you could get around infringement by giving attribution to the vendor, you still may not be in the clear. The vendor may not own the copyrights to all the images that appear on their websites. As explained in this other blog post here, Copyright ownership vests in the creator of the work at the time of creation. This means that unless the vendor and the creator of the image have agreed to transfer ownership of the copyright in the images, the creator still owns the copyright and all the rights associated. In such a case, the creator gives the vendor limited rights to use the image through a license.
So now you might ask: “Can I use the image if I give attribution to the creator of the image (if that information is available)?” The answer is still no because the creator has not given you the permission to display the image(s).

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Broccoli itself is in the public domain. This photograph of broccoli is not.

All hope is not lost, though. There are many sites where creators can make their images available to anyone to use under certain conditions. These images are not in the public domain but operate under a license. By using the images from these sites, you are agreeing to abide by certain restrictions. To wrap everything up neatly: you should never use an image you find online (even if you give attribution) without first obtaining a license from the creator or checking to see if the image is public domain.

Do I register my wedding business logo as a copyright or trademark?

matt_editedI am thrilled to have Intellectual Property attorney Matthew Goings of Goings Legal, LLC guest post today!

Matthew Goings is the founder of Goings Legal, LLC, a boutique Intellectual Property law firm located in Atlanta, Georgia representing individuals, start-ups, and small businesses in their intellectual property and contract needs. I know what your thinking: “He was a total band geek.” You are absolutely right. During his time as an undergrad at the University of Georgia, he marched tenor saxophone in the Redcoat Marching Band. He was also a member of the Brotherhood of the music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (sounds like one of those secret societies…).

If you have any questions or concerns about your wedding or event business’ trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property, be sure to give him a call.

DISCLAIMER: THIS INFORMATION IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. NEITHER MATTHEW GOINGS NOR ANYONE AFFILIATED WITH THIS SITE IS YOUR LAWYER.

What kind of rights do I have to my business name or logo if I do NOT register the copyright?

Well, contrary to what many think, a business name or tagline is not copyrightable because it doesn’t meet the minimum threshold for creativity. Most of the time, a logo will also not qualify for copyright protection; however, if the logo is especially artistic or creative, it could meet the standard for copyrightability. In that case, you could protect under both trademark and copyright law.

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“Yes, I would like to trademark this dent in my car. I call it, ‘Don’t let my girlfriend drive.”

If you do not register the trademark, you still have some rights to the name or logo under trademark law. Similar to how copyright exists simply by creating the work, you gain some trademark protection, called common law rights, simply by using the mark in commerce. This protection is limited, though. While you enjoy trademark protection across the whole country when you register your mark federally, common law rights only apply in the geographic area where you do business. For example, if you only conduct business in Atlanta, then your business name and logo are only protectable in Atlanta. Another vendor could use a similar, or the same, name in another state and possibly within Georgia. If this did happen, it is possible that you could still prevent them from using the name, depending on several factors. However, it is best not to rely only on common law rights. Even if your mark does not qualify for federal registration, you can register at the state level. Similar to how a federal registration provides nationwide protection, a state registration provides protection across the entire state in which it is registered even if you’re only using it in a limited geographic area.
So what rights does this give you? You can prevent others from using your trademark in almost any manner. Such protection usually applies when another company tries to pass off their products as yours by using a similar name or tries to make it appear as though they have a connection to your company. The only allowable use is called nominative fair use, which allows another to use your mark as a reference to their services (such as an automotive garage advertising “We service FORD, CHEVROLET, and VOLKSWAGEN.”) or comparing products (“Compare to CLOROX brand wipes.”).