Maria Spear Ollis | Lunch & Learn

Intellectual Property

We all have something we wish we had learned in college. Some wish they learned how to do their taxes, some wish they learned how to do laundry, but for creatives, we wish we had learned the legalities of what we create. Now we have the ability to just “Google” it, but legal jargon begins to look a lot like “Lorem ipsum” after hours of trying to decipher it. Last week, Circa went back to school at our monthly Lunch & Learn and received educational advice (not legal) on intellectual property law from the marvelous Maria Spear Ollis, owner of Spear IP.

Notes from our 12 pm Intellectual Property class with Professor Ollis:

  •  Trademarks are associated with interstate commerce and protect a name or symbol associated with a brand and protect the consumer from confusion of products and/or services
  • Copyrights protect creative works such as logos, websites, and art. Copyrights do not have to be registered, but a registered copyright is easier to fight in court and proves that your idea existed first.
  • Search first! Look into databases to see if a name or mark is already protected or a simple web search into similar businesses or names. This search before you get started can save you time and possibly court costs. USPTO.GOV is a great resource to check to see if names or logos are already registered.
  • Contracts protect creative services. A client can hand over images, logos, or copy, but if the client does not own them or have the rights to use them then the designer can be implicated unless a contract specifically protects the designer.
  • Check the fine print. When you download a font or an image check the licenses to make sure how many people can use it, how you can use it, or how/if it should be referenced.

In a creative realm, it’s easy to have your subconscious step in and create something you’ve seen before. Research and showing your process keeps you accountable and guides you to make unique design decisions that have not yet been created. Always keep in mind the consumer if you question whether or not a name, or a logo, could be confused with an existing business chances are you should adjust your decisions accordingly.

Thank you to Maria for taking the time to come enjoy lunch and teach us about intellectual property and the importance of protecting our work!

At Circa, we have a bold understanding that education never just stops after college. This has been the motivation for our new series: Lunch & Learn. Every month we will have lunch with some of the brightest people in the creative field ranging from painters to SEO masters; and poke their brains to get a better understanding of the world and our role as visual communicators.

About Maria

Spear IP began in Nashville, TN in 2015 to offer legal services to creative businesses. Maria’s creative background was enriched as a music major at University of Michigan where she decided she wanted to fight against piracy, and later, intellectual property. She attended Law School in New York at Pace University and now guides businesses with creative ideas in the world of trademarks and copyrights.

About L&L

At Circa, we have a bold understanding that education never just stops after college. This has been the motivation for our new series: Lunch & Learn. Every month we will have lunch with some of the brightest people in the creative field ranging from painters to SEO masters; and poke their brains to get a better understanding of the world and our role as visual communicators.

About Maria

Spear IP began in Nashville, TN in 2015 to offer legal services to creative businesses. Maria’s creative background was enriched as a music major at University of Michigan where she decided she wanted to fight against piracy, and later, intellectual property. She attended Law School in New York at Pace University and now guides businesses with creative ideas in the world of trademarks and copyrights.