[124] The Legalities of Handmade Business with Christina Scalera [Part One]

Have you ever wondered about the legalities around your handmade business?

Things like trademarks, copyright, insurance…

Can you buy Star Wars fabric and make purses out of it?

Do you need to trademark your business name?

Should you get business insurance?

Can you legally take a quote and sell a print featuring it?

The legalities around handmade business can be super-confusion, and a potential source of stress. I’m very happy to bring you 2 episodes that answer a wide range of your questions about the legal side of handmade business.

My guest this week – and next week – is Christina Scalera, a lawyer from the US who has a lot of experience with the legalities of creative business.

If you have any questions after listening to this episode, please leave them in the comments below!

 

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Quotes and highlights from this episode:

  • The earlier you consider legal issues the better off you will be.
  • Invest in business insurance – this is an important early step in your business.
  • At some point someone will have a problem with your business and it is important to have the insurance to back you up.
  • Anything you create from scratch is your intellectual property (aka IP)
  • Be aware business insurance does not include intellectual property coverage. This is worthwhile to pay the extra for if you can afford it.
  • If a US based audience is purchasing from you then you are subject to US laws.
  • “To be on the safe side adopt US rules” {Christina}
  • With 2017 US copyright law anything from 1923 and earlier is in the public domain.
  • With 2017 Australian copyright law anything from 1955 and earlier is in the public domain.
  • These copyright laws relate to anything authored – play, dance, design, quote and similar.
  • Jess shares an anecdote about an IP issue she faced in the early years of her business.
  • Understand the Doctrine of First Sale. You can purchase something from someone else and use it as a component in your product as the license has already been paid for. For example, purchasing Pokémon fabric and making a bag to sell in your store.
  • A good guiding principle is to include in the item title or description that your product is unofficial and ensure there is no confusion.
  • Avoid using the name of something that could be a trademark.
  • When choosing a business name do your research. Generic and descriptive names are harder to protect whereas invented names are the easiest.
  • Trademarks are based on common law use – as long as you have done a clearance search and there is nothing out there is a low level of confusion and infringement.
  • “The earlier you can use a trademark typically the better – you are bookmarking the date in time that you started using it and selling it” {Christina}
  • Find our more about Christina over on her website, The Contract Shop.

 

Download or listen to this episode.

 

You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher)

Jess

Van Den has written 379 posts in this blog.

Jess Van Den is the editor of Create & Thrive, and has been a full-time creative entrepreneur since 2010. She makes eco-conscious, contemporary, handmade sterling silver jewellery under the Epheriell label, and blogs about her jewellery and other beautiful things at Epheriell.com. You can catch her on twitter @JessVanDen.

Comments

Brenda Powell
Reply

Jess,
I listened to the Podcast about ‘The Legalities of Handmade Business with Christina Scalero, Part One.’ I found it interesting and educational for me. I have a question though that I hope you can answer for me. I want to start a handmade business with my own website as well as sell on Etsy and other websites like those. My interest is making altered bottles decorating them will lace, trims, and jewelry. I want to mostly use brooches/pin along with chains, etc. I do not plan to disassemble the jewelry and use only parts of it, I want to attach the entire brooch/pin to the bottle. These are my personal pins that I have bought some time ago and others more recently in retail stores or off eBay or given to me as a gift from someone. Some are vintage pins. Many are stamped on the back with the designer’s brand name such as Monet, Coro, Liz Claiborne. Others are handmade by people who have sold them on eBay or Etsy but there is no signature on the back.

Can I use these brooches/pins that I have described above on my altered bottles as they are, not altering the brooch/pin in any way, just attaching it to the bottle and working it into my decoration of the altered bottle? Or will I get into trouble with the stamped brand names or the designer’s signature written signatures on the back of the brooches? I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s brand name or designer signature that may be on the brooch whether it was a homemade brooch someone made and signed or did not sign on the back, or if it was commercially sold from a retail store or a retail jewelry store.

Hope you can help me.

Thank you,
Brenda Powell
bpowell@indy.rr.com

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