Annie Doresca and Michelle Graff welcome Reggie Johnson and Sheryl Jones for a frank conversation on the state of DEI in fine jewelry.
Copyright, Trademark, Patent: Do You Know the Difference?
National Jeweler recaps a recent primer on intellectual property law led by Jewelers Vigilance Committee Senior Counsel Sara Yood.
She started with the intellectual property for which protection is simplest to obtain: copyright.
Copyright grants the creator of an “original work” exclusive rights to its use and distribution for the life of the last-living author, plus another 70 years.
Copyright covers a wide range of works, including movies, literary works, choreography, photography and visual arts, which includes jewelry design.
After copyright expires, the work becomes part of the public domain and is free for anyone to use. (According to an article published by The Atlantic last month, there is a “landslide” of classic art set to enter the public domain in the United States next year.)
An individual does not need to file anything to officially get a copyright. In the U.S., copyright is automatically secured when a work is created and “fixed in a tangible medium,” meaning a copy is made. For a piece of jewelry, an original drawing of a piece of jewelry is considered a copy.
However, Yood said, if an individual wants her or his work to stand up in court, it should be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, which can be done fairly simply online for $35 or by mail for $65.
While the bar is “very low” for originality when it comes to obtaining a copyright registration, the bar for defending a work in court is substantially higher. The more original a design, the easier it will be for a designer or retailer to win a copyright infringement case.
A trademark, or service mark, is for words, names, symbols, devices (including colors or smells) or any combination thereof that are used to identify goods or services. The purpose of a trademark is two-fold: to distinguish a product as coming from a particular source and to assure the buyer a consistent level of quality in the goods sold under that trademark. The Nike Swoosh is one example, as is the robin’s egg blue color Tiffany & Co. has trademarked for its boxes and bags.
One facet of trademark law Yood reviewed that many in the room—and perhaps many in the industry—seem unaware of is the National Gold & Silver Stamping Act requirement that all precious metal items stamped with a quality mark (14K, 925, etc.) also must be stamped with the producer’s federally registered trademark. This acts as a guarantee of the stated fineness of the precious metal, she said.
Once obtained, trademark protection is indefinite, unless it is deemed to have been abandoned (meaning no longer used) or have become a generic term for the products it represents, like Murphy bed, aspirin and thermos. Known as genericide, this is what Tiffany was fighting against in its legal row with Costco over the term “Tiffany setting,” a battle that it ultimately won.
The costs involved in obtaining a trademark vary but, not counting attorney’s fees, it’s around $450 per mark. It’s worth noting, she said, that trademark applications are public record, so any information that’s entered will be searchable online.
Yood also recommended hiring an attorney for patents, two types of which are relevant to the jewelry industry.
A utility patent protects an invention or the discovery of a new and useful process or machine, or any improvements upon either one. It is active for 20 years from the filing date of the first application. A design patent covers design and is good for 14 years.
The USPTO handles patents too and, as with trademarks, has assistance programs available to those who are unable to afford an attorney.
In her presentation, Yood also covered an area of intellectual property law for which relevance has increased with the advent of social media: the right of publicity.
The right of publicity refers to an individual’s right to control the commercial use of her or his name, image, likeness or other aspects of identity. It is generally considered a property right, which it means it continues even after an individual dies.
It is a state-based right and therefore varies from state to state, with some states—like New York, California and Tennessee (because of Elvis, Yood said)—having more protection for individuals than others.
What this means, she added, is that retailers and designers cannot use an image of a celebrity wearing their jewelry without her or his permission or the permission of an agent for that individual. It’s also worth noting that licensing rights also have to be obtained for photos taken by services like Getty Images.
Publicity rights extend to images posted by a celebrity on her or his personal Instagram page or other social media sites. Individuals, Yood said, are in no way releasing rights to the commercial use of their image simply by sharing it on social media.
Jeff Gennette will step down in February 2024, passing the torch to the CEO of another notable retailer.
Artisan Martin Roberts fashioned lunar meteorites into 48 beads to create this out-of-this-world necklace.
Distinguishing natural diamonds from laboratory-grown stones – now more available than ever – has been difficult for jewelers. Until now.
As for new members, the organization welcomed Jewelers of America’s Annie Doresca and Parag Jain of Parag Diamonds.
Jacob & Co.’s new “Billionaire” timepiece features more than 200 carats of yellow diamonds.
Heidi Horten, wife of department store magnate Helmut Horten, collected jewelry from Bulgari, Cartier, Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels.
De Beers Institute of Diamonds provides the very best in diamond verification, education and diamond services.
The jewelry industry insurer and solutions provider is celebrating 110 years in business this month.
The statement came as the National Retail Federation released its retail sales forecast for 2023.
Sotheby’s will auction the diamond, which it says is “arguably the most significant pink diamond to ever appear at auction,” in June.
The retailer, recently acquired by Signet Jewelers, will lay off 119 employees in July.
The Swiss watchmaker introduced 17 new models at Watches & Wonders Geneva.
As part of the promotion, Smith will share his sales expertise during a 90-minute training session.
At Watches & Wonders, the Swiss brand unveiled a follow-up to last year’s Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante.
The “rêve” collection’s engagement rings and wedding bands are geared toward “sustainability minded customers.”
A new word appears on the dial each day of the week.
Bensons Jewelers closed for good Feb. 24, impacted in part by the decline in foot traffic downtown since the onset of the pandemic.
Kolja Kiofsky has been with the crystal and jewelry company since 2010.
The Kruse GWS Auctions sale will include the replica “Taj Mahal” necklace Elizabeth Taylor made with Avon as well as a costume piece Marilyn Monroe wore.
Massimo Basei is moving up, while Chief Commercial Officer Martino Pessina is stepping down.
Sold by Christie’s Hong Kong, this masterwork of complications now holds the record for most expensive watch ever auctioned online.
The watch company expects first-quarter sales to fall as much as 15 percent due to inflation and tough comps.
Adam O’Grady, general manager of the Lightbox Lab, has taken on the new role and will report directly to Lightbox CEO Antoine Borde.
The watch marketplace gathered data from 1.3 million collectors, highlighting the most popular timepieces and exploring value appreciation.
Burgundy has opted not to exercise its option to buy the mining claims Gibb River Diamonds currently owns.
Patented and specialty cuts now can receive an 8X Proprietary Certificate, which can be customized to include a company’s brand and logo.