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.


Bangor Bookseller’s Suit Against to Continue


A federal judge is allowing a Bangor publisher and bookseller to proceed with its antitrust lawsuit against Amazon.

In a court order filed Wednesday, Chief U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock Jr. denied Amazon’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against it by BookLocker, a Bangor-based print-on-demand publisher and bookseller. In May 2008, BookLocker filed the complaint against Amazon, alleging the online retailer is violating a federal antitrust law by forcing print-on-demand publishers to use its BookSurge subsidiary to print books if they want to sell them directly on Amazon. BookLocker alleges that using BookSurge would force it to take a loss on almost every book sold, according to the court documents.

RIAA wins a round

Those UMaine students challenging the RIAA failed in their effort to have the suit dismissed. Not sure how long the students plan to be in this battle, but it could go on for c.

Nine students at the University of Maine who are taking on the Recording Industry Association of America were rebuffed last week by a magistrate judge.

Margaret J. Kravchuk, a U.S. magistrate judge, sided with the recording-industry group. She recommended that the federal district court in Maine reject the students’ motion to dismiss the group’s lawsuit against them, saying that she disagreed with their reading of the 2007 Supreme Court case Bell Atlantic Corp v. Twombly