Last Updated: March 10, 2015
Intellectual Property 101
If we re-use the wikipedia definition of Intellectual Property, it would read: Intellectual Property (IP) is a legal term that refers to creations of the mind. Examples of intellectual property include music, literature, and other artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Under intellectual property laws, owners of intellectual property are granted certain exclusive rights.
Those exclusive rights are protected by law and can come in the form of copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade dress which all serve to protect someone's right to earn financial benefit or recognition from what they create.
OK, what does that mean in terms of the site? Well, whether you're visiting us for the first time, or are an old friend, one thing that we want to make very clear is that we take these rights - both yours as an individual or as an established entity - very seriously. If we do one thing well, it's that we make it very easy to make regular deposits into your karma bank. Q: What good would it do any of us if we built a system that rewarded individuals who knowingly and willingly profit from another person's IP? A: No good at all.
To help give everyone an overview, we've provided some examples of what could be flagged, our process for notifying us, as well as some helpful links to a few external sites that specialize in IP. It's not light reading by any stretch of the imagination, but if you're not familiar with these laws, it may save you time, money and effort in the long run if you review them at some point. Also, before we get too far, we would be remiss if we didn't remind everyone that using intellectual property (unless owned or licensed by you) in a Launch's design, images, title, tags, URL, or description is infringement, which is against our Terms of Service and a number of laws.
- US Patent and Trademark Office: The official site for US information and registration
- USPTO-Trademarks: The official word on trademarks
- USPTO-Patents: Dozens of great resources from the USPTO
- USPTO-General Resources: An online knowledge base, glossary, newsletters and case studies
- USPTO-Physical Locations: A handy list of physical locations
- International IP Community: A UN-based global forum for IP, policy and support
- NOLO Press: For the self-guided and DIY lawyers amongst us
A Few Visual Samples
Trademark: In the examples above, the design displayed on the left hand t-shirt is owned by the San Jose Sharks Hockey Club. On the right, a violation of BMW AG. Like most brands, BMW AG owns trademarks to protect its iconic logos and phrases. Without licenses in place, these two shirts would be violations of several laws and our Terms of Service. As a result, both would be subject to removal and funds seized.
Copyright: Looking at the two designs above, they cover both unique design and/or a unique phrase. These two factors are critical in determining copyright ownership. A copyright is automatically granted at the time of becoming a "fixed" form, meaning it has been submitted to a platform with the ability to display said item to the public.
You may also hear of an often abused term called "fair use" which covers parodies and transformed work. Used within the bounds of the law, non-profits, news organization, critics, resarch facilities, parody artists, and centers of education often employ fair use to teach, share or endorse their message. Please make sure to read all about fair use to protect yourself from prosection.
Site IP Review
Launches are routinely reviewed by both us and our community for possible infringement. Those taken down within the first few days of creation are usually the result of our own internal reviews or that of our community. Anything longer is usually the result of a valid cease and desist or take down notice demonstrating proof of ownership.
Review TOS: It's a very good idea to review the long list of potential violations, but in general, refrain from using any of the following in your designs, titles, tags or descriptions:
- images, lyrics or artwork linked to a musical act (think Rolling Stones tongue)
- an existing logo or iteration thereof
- an organization or individual's name without their permission
- a design with an easily recognized or iconic font (like AC/DC)
- a sports organization (NFL, MLB, NHL, etc.)
- institutions of higher learning
- celebrities, athletes or musicans
Your Own IP: Just as described above, if you create a unique piece of artwork or original work of authorship (not copied), your work automatically receives copyright protection.
Your Rights: Content curation is an imperfect process, therefore we want to remind everyone that you have the right to question each takedown notice directly with the claimant. Conversely, you have every right to file an official notice of infringement with us so that we may investigate a Launch that may be in violation of your rights. Please visit our support center for details.
These Services are operated and provided by KarmaLaunch, Inc, 3561 Homestead Road, Suite 999, Santa Clara, CA 95051. If you have any questions about these guidelines, please do not hesitate to ask.