See my article in the Bangor Daily News

The latest “Ask a Lawyer” column in the Bangor Daily news is about if and when you can copyright or trademark your own name.

Copyright and trademark law protect names in commercial uses. Copyright law protects “creative works,” including literary, music and visual works. Your given name — even one you give yourself — is not going to be considered a creative work that can be copyrighted. Names in a book, such as “Harry Potter” are protected by copyright as part of the literary work in which it is used.

Trademark law protects a name if it is associated with a product or service. An example of this is “Ralph Lauren,” which is a real person’s name, but also the name of the company that produces clothing. So the use of the name Ralph Lauren is protected by trademark law, because it represents the clothing and goods made by the Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.

If you are concerned about the unauthorized use of your name, Maine law prohibits the unauthorized use of your name or image for commercial purposes. The unauthorized appropriation of your name or likeness is considered a violation of your right to privacy. This comes up in advertisements, with lawsuits that typically involve famous people or celebrities.

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More Verrill Dana Lawyers Face Sanctions

The Portland Press Herald provides an update on the fallout from the actions of the former firm partner John Duncan.

Questions have lingered about the response to Duncan’s thefts within Verrill Dana, and whether other lawyers — most notably former managing partner David Warren — would be charged criminally or brought up for sanctions by the Maine Board of Bar Overseers.  While it appears that no one other than Duncan will face criminal charges, the lead counsel for the Board of Bar Overseers has accused six Verrill Dana lawyers of breaking ethics rules.

After investigating the matter for nearly three years, J. Scott Davis recently filed a court complaint outlining the allegations against Warren and James Kilbreth III, who chaired Verrill Dana’s executive board in the summer of 2007.  Davis also seeks unspecified sanctions against lawyers Eric Altholz, Mark Googins, Roger Clement Jr. and Juliet Browne, who served on the firm’s executive board at the time.  Disciplinary hearings for all of the lawyers have been scheduled for Dec. 13 and 14 in District Court in Lewiston.

More here, here, here, and here