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Copyright Infringement, Trademark Infringement:Protect Yourself, Understanding The Differences

1. Copyright Infringement: Illegal Use of Copyrighted Material

Use of Someone Else's Data

All original data (text, photos and graphics) which is entered by a shop owner into your Ruby Lane shop - or by anyone, anywhere else on the Web – by law is automatically copyrighted material. Use of this data in any way by someone other than the original owner without their permission is illegal. It is a mistake to believe that usage of someone else's data is simply "borrowing"; that the Web is so large that the rules don't apply or that "no one will notice." Simply changing or updating the content for one's individual needs is also considered copyright infringement. Please consider this reminder as evidence to the contrary. Repeated infringers may be subject to permanent shop closure.

2. Trademark Infringement: Through the Offering of Unofficial Trademarked Items

Another type of potential online infringement is when an item being offered for sale uses or imitates a trademark without permission from the owner of the trademark. For example, if a shop is offering a handcrafted doll that resembles Barbie®, and they're calling her Barbie® in their title and description, they would be infringing on the Barbie® trademark, held by Mattel® regardless of whether it was done with knowledge of the infringement or not. Another example might be if a shop designed a "custom" Barbie® lunchbox that included the use of the Barbie® logo and her likeness, but tweaked somewhat. Mattel® has not sanctioned the unofficial creation and distribution of their doll or lunchbox, thus, the shop would be infringing on the trademark. Creating and/or offering for sale an item which uses the Barbie® name and/or inclusion of the Barbie® logo whether replicated exactly or changed in any way, would be illegal. And it would be incorrect to assume that Mattel would never notice that the shop is listing an unofficial item as a "Barbie" item in their shop, as many companies regularly search the Internet for abuses of their trademark, and when they find them, they act, no matter how large or small they perceive the actual seller to be. In fact, it is the law that if a trademark owner is aware of an infringer but does not act upon it, the trademark owner could lose their trademark. This concept holds true for literally any product anywhere in the marketplace that you can possibly think of that is trademarked, so we recommend that all shops check their inventory carefully with the above points in mind.

Offering Official Items

However, if a shop is selling an authentic vintage Barbie® or Barbie® lunchbox which of course many Ruby Lane shops currently do, that would not be trademark infringement, as the shop is selling an official item, originally produced and distributed by the owner, or an agent of the owner of the trademark, and accurately labeled and described using the trademarks.

Wide Ranging Issues

Business owners today must be careful of infringements with everything from the name of your business (or your shop name), to your logo, and all shop content. The following are links to additional information regarding copyright and trademark infringement. Many of these links also list the steps that one should take to to protect themselves:

http://sbinformation.about.com/cs/patents/a/trademark.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark_infringement

http://www.bitlaw.com/trademark/internet.html