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Advice: Patenting a Character/Species

Hello all!

I am working on a comic currently, however, someone, who will remain nameless, is deliberately Stealing and selling the Main species of the world as a "closed species"

I have proof that the species is originally mine, not his, in creation (with a 4 year old, unmodified/updated ref)
I had relations with this person formerly, so this is all being done to spite me

My species is not "closed" however him selling them as closed is becoming a problem for my comic (I sell the species for cameos in said comic, but anyone can make one)

How would I go about protecting the species?


I appreciate all the Advice. As of currently I have been working on a restraining order.

However. I noticed a major string of hidden comments on them trying to sell the species, and I'm not pointing fingers, but if it was one of you, PLEASE DON'T CONFRONT THEM. I didn't mention names for a reason and every time someone does something like that they call my poor father and scream at him (because I changed my number twice so they couldn't find me)

Thank you :C

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Artist's beware has moved!
Do NOT repost your old bewares. They are being archived.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 4th, 2014 08:36 am (UTC)
"How would I go about protecting the species?"
The EPA?

Okay, not funny.

I am not sure if one exists at all, but if one did it would protect some of the most popular fictional species in the world. I am wondering what mechanism, if any, something like an EWOK would be protected under? Aside from Billions of dollars, and a holding tank full of ravenous lawyers....

I am sorry I don't have a definitive answer for you, I hope this will at least provide you the direction you need to go toward to find one. A long time ago, in a Galaxy far far away.
Jul. 4th, 2014 09:10 am (UTC)
I actually looked up the ewok specifically for my post ahaha. It's protected under patents and trademarks. However, it needs a new patent per concept it's used under (such as a toy) in order to work with the trademark. So, maybe it'd need the same if it is used in a book or comic? I wasn't able to find that information. But basically, hundreds of dollars are in to make sure that species isn't ripped off, but all ewoks tend to look alike for a reason, they have to stay within 20% similarities for the trademark/copyrights/patents to hold effect.
Jul. 4th, 2014 09:07 am (UTC)
Technically this starts to fall into a lot of gray areas, that chances are you won't want the person in question to see this information on. It's something I see a lot of people I get upset over, so..kind of expect I'll be getting some yelling for posting this, ahah.

However, what you're looking for are trademarks. Trademarks are defined as something that is protected to be used only by one company or product. Lots of grays in there, basically means you can trademark, say, a character, and you get rights to that character.
However, it's only that character. The name, and the design. It does not protect a full concept.

As an example, Mickey is a trademarked character. However, it does not protect the species, only that very specific character design. They needed a different trademark for Minnie. Technically anything with 20% difference, is considered a different character and therefore not infringing on the trademark.

Another comparison is, ever seen those horrible disney knockoff movies? Ones that were CLEARLY made to be a ripoff of ratatouille, madagascar, brave, and other animated films? Their characters are very disturbingly close to the disney counterparts, but they still get away with it (sometimes, in some cases they are sued, but they're getting good at making sure they keep everything at least 20% different)
They get away with it because, though ungodly similar in some ways, they have different concepts in other ways. (google kiara the brave and then google the pixar brave, and then initiate cringing.)

Patents won't work for something as varied as a species concept (though you can try, that 20% thing still comes into play) it'll protect the concept of..like, a toy. Or a specific story/play/script. You might be able to squeeze something in there,
however, the biggest thing i need to point out is;
If there is already something out there similar (within that 20% zone) to what you're doing, it will not work. They can come forth and say "hey, mine looks like that, but it was published before." and derail your trademark, patent, etc.
Copyright protects very, very specific work (such as a work of art, but only that specific file. They can't take that picture and print it without permission without possibly going against copyright. They can make their own picture and do what they like with it, but that's all)

So generally, via law, there's not a lot you can do unless you have a TON of cash to throw around like disney. Usually the way I see people deal with this is to contact the person doing this and asking them to stop, or post a specific beware on them, though I'm not sure they completely fall within the rules of that here?

(Note: I am missing a lot of information in this post, all of this was done off of memory after dealing with a lot of trademark + copyright + patent crud for a close friend's company when they were having problems with another organization trying to derail them by making a copycat organization. I learned that you basically can win at anything if you have the money for it, but it generally isn't worth the drama. Especially in this case, are they really going to derail you enough that it's worth the hundreds of dollars to file a trademark or patent?)
Jul. 4th, 2014 01:30 pm (UTC)
I didn't know this was a thing until you mentioned it but WOW I looked it up.
(no subject) - fenris_lorsrai - Jul. 4th, 2014 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 4th, 2014 04:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I saw that about Sarila. It's also mentioned in the comments on the link I linked. The commenter said it wasn't a great movie, but it was at least original and should have been given the chance to succeed on its own merit. :(
Jul. 5th, 2014 06:56 am (UTC)
I've actually seen part of "chop kick panda".
It's hilariously bad, if you're at all invested in good animation it will make you squirm with the shame you feel for it's creators.
(no subject) - fenris_lorsrai - Jul. 4th, 2014 04:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 4th, 2014 05:29 pm (UTC)
I agree with an information page. State when the species was first created, link the old art. Do a 'through the years' history page even.

You could also attempt a proper AB post on them. If they are selling your species and it really is a direct copy, they may approve it.

Another option is post an anon journal stating a user is copying your designs and selling them, and that they are free to make and they should never be purchased from anyone but yourself, for your special comic slots.
Do not name names. Do not privately note people the names. Just put it as a warning.
Jul. 4th, 2014 11:51 pm (UTC)
In what way is him selling the species hurting the comic? As others have stated there's really not a lot you can do in this case, but if you gave more detail on how it's impacting you, there might be a fix for the particular problem(s) you're having.

Without having any further detail yet the main thing I can recommend is getting the facts out there as much as possible. Make sure that anybody who views your comics can easily find more info on the species/world where you can provide more detail on the fact that you own the species and that they are free to make. (Don't name names, but you might mention that there are 'similar' species being sold as closed species.)

Also - if you have some proof that this is being done to spite you (ex. if they have said as much or threatened in the past to do something like this and you have screenshots) you might be able to get them banned from whatever site(s) they are using to sell "their" "closed species".

Edited at 2014-07-04 11:52 pm (UTC)
Jul. 5th, 2014 12:55 am (UTC)
i think they're mostly just afraid that the person selling the species will make it look like their comic is the ripoff, instead of the original.

i agree with teekchan's suggestion. do a through the years post, display the original concept art, etc. the OP could even add a footnote to their comic like "__creature__ and ___comic___ are original content by ___me the OP__, and ___creature__ is free to use as long as you credit me!" or something.

honestly if the guy tries to make a big deal out of it, evidence is in the OP's favour. there's very little chance that there'll be drama that reflects poorly on the OP in this scenario, since the OP is the creator *and* isn't looking to profit off the design, while the thief is. even if the thief has a large fanbase, OP's in the right.
Jul. 5th, 2014 01:09 am (UTC)
That footnote is really clear and concise, I think that's a good idea.

I also agree that it's really unlikely that this will reflect badly on OP if it comes down to the other person trying to accuse them of anything.
Jul. 5th, 2014 07:32 am (UTC)
The person is actually already permabanned from fa for this and is now having his partner do it for him.
Jul. 5th, 2014 06:54 pm (UTC)
If he was banned for it, his partner should be, too. I would go ahead and report the partner.

P.S. After seeing some of the info below, you might want to look into a restraining order as well if you haven't already. I'm sorry you're dealing with something like this :( but please try to rest easy knowing that this particular petty behavior on their part shouldn't do anything to hurt your comic or your income from it, and will only reflect badly on them for anybody who knows what's happening.

Edited at 2014-07-05 06:59 pm (UTC)
(Screened comment)
Jul. 7th, 2014 05:15 pm (UTC)
Since this is an advice post and not a beware, I'm going to screen this in case it is identifying. Feel free to PM them about it.
Jul. 5th, 2014 01:38 am (UTC)
Is it possible that you could link a picture of the species you're trying to TM?

Sorry for snooping around, but all I found was the fenmur, a species made by combining the fennec fox and lemur... And I don't mean to sound offensive but this is kind of pretty generic. I mean, I've looked at some of these designs and adoptables that are being sold by these other people and it just looks like people who put sparkles on wolves, or in this case fennec foxes,... then add lemurs tails and stripes to the legs.

Edit: Sorry, I see that they refer to the species as fenmur and you refer to them as lemox.

Now if I'm wrong about the species, please correct me. Maybe you're referring to something super unique or something else.

But I'm really confused by the post. You want a copyright of the species just so everyone can use them? ("but anyone can make one") I thought people normally got copyrights and TMs so people won't use them?

Edited at 2014-07-05 01:46 am (UTC)
Jul. 5th, 2014 03:50 am (UTC)
I think the problem they're trying to say is that the person is selling adoptables and stuff claiming that its his closed species, even though they're the OP's species and free to make, with exception if you want a cameo in the comic.

Jul. 5th, 2014 07:30 am (UTC)
There is a bit more uniqueness to mine

But the major is that the people making those fenmurs are deliberately doing so out of anger for me, (because I broke up with them) and making a species that is open to all closed (with exception of buying the cameo spots)</p>

It may seem petty, and I guess it kind of is? But this isn't the first time these people have wronged me (with them even deliberately ripping off my fursona, destroying my cosigned car and leaving me with a 2100$ debt) I believe I have every right to be tired of their shenanigans

Mostly, I'm looking for more information on how to protect my works, because them having the exact same thing as my open species is becoming a huge problem. Not to mention they threaten to sue me every time I draw my oldest and most beloved character

Jul. 5th, 2014 08:30 am (UTC)
Unless they have that character trademarked, it is impossible for them to sue you. Even if it is trademarked, if you can prove you were drawing it before they trademarked it, it derails their trademark (therefore it won't work if they attempt to sue you)
Jul. 5th, 2014 01:48 pm (UTC)
Oh I know, they are just ridiculous and it's getting old after a year of it
Jul. 5th, 2014 04:01 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry but I don't really have any advice on protecting your art but you should look into protecting yourself too. I had a very troublesome ex who would contact me online, ban evade accounts and so forth. Have you thought about filing a restraining order? People change their tunes very quickly when there are real world police involved. And while I don't know about certain furry websites, I do know that other websites were a little more helpful in banning accounts and ip banning once they were informed about the restraining order.

This won't stop them stealing your fursona, species or any of that but it will stop any contact and them threatening to sue you.
Jul. 9th, 2014 11:21 pm (UTC)
I know this is a bit of an old post now, but this is a very, very important issue to me, one that has come up over and over again, especially in the furry world, it seems.

As others have said, and I will clarify, you CANNOT copyright or otherwise legally protect a species, as it is an "idea/concept/design", and those CANNOT be copyrighted under United States copyright law. Copyright law may be different in other countries, but that's how it is here.

As others have stated, you may TRADEMARK a design, the way that Nintendo has trademarked Pokemon (they also have copyrighted the Pokemon designs, but they have the weight of character recognizeability). It is, however, difficult to simply trademark a fairly generic critter/design as I believe you must prove that you are somehow profiting off of its likeness (it's been a while since I looked into the trademark process!)

On the same coin, you cannot copyright a character for the same reasons.

Companies can trademark/copyright characters and "species" (e.g., the likenesses thereof) because they can prove profit deriving from the likeness of said character or "species". They can also prove widespread recognizeability of said character or species (think Mickey Mouse, Pokemon, the dragons from How To Train Your Dragon, etc), which your average furry artist/comic artist cannot do.

Things can change if your character or species becomes more widely known (as in, if your comic becomes nationally published, if you made a published book series about them, if a movie was made about them, if a merchandise series was made of them, etc.), but for the most part, the ONLY thing you hold a copyright to is the actual artwork you create itself. You hold absolutely no legal claim to the design of the species; anyone else can create lemur-fox critters and sell them all they want, unfortunately.

If this person is harassing you outright, however, you can contact the proper authorities and have something done about that. :{

Edited at 2014-07-09 11:23 pm (UTC)
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )


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