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03/07/2008 11:16:22 AM · #1
This is not photography related.

My wife makes stuff and sells it. Mostly she sells stuff in her crafter's shop at etsy.com, but she's starting to branch out into local gift shops and such. One of her newest things she's been doing is taking regular old scrabble letter tiles (from the Scrabble board game) and making pendants out of them for necklaces.

A couple of examples:

//www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=9563354

//www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=9563183

//www.thing-a-day.com/2008/02/21/day-21-necklaces/ (more colorful, these ones)

I know that no one here is a lawyer, and I won't take anyone's advice as legal advice. But I'm wondering if there are any copyright/trademark/whatever issues with using obviously recognizable game pieces like this and selling them for a profit? Is it any different than any other crafting supplies she might use? Since they have been significantly modified, does that make a difference?

Message edited by author 2008-03-07 11:16:32.
03/07/2008 11:27:20 AM · #2
I think as long as she isnt calling them

"scrabble necklaces" or using the name or logo or trademark of the company in any of it she should be fine.

We had a similar situation when I owned my candy franchise. Hersheys wouldnt allow us to use their name in any of our candy bouquets..etc...
03/07/2008 11:47:00 AM · #3
Good point on using the name of the company.

I'm thinking this falls under fair use, where the "derivative work" is really transformative. The resulting product is completely different in style and intent from the original product. That's my take, so far. Any other ideas on this? Help me out!
03/07/2008 04:58:07 PM · #4
Final bump for the afternoon group?
03/07/2008 05:06:58 PM · #5
I understand your argument that it is a derivative work that does not have the same intent as the original at all.

My husband is a lawyer, although not a IP lawyer. His opinion is that becuase it is still a recognizable Scrabble piece, you are infringing on their branding and they could stop you from using it. He said the criteria is whether you are piggybacking on someone else's branding. Does the fact that it is a Scrabble tile add something to the art of the jewelry? Will people recognize it as Scrabble right away? You are not using their name or logo, but the recognizability of the tile makes that part of the company's IP.

I can't imagine that she is big enough in any way to get onto Scrabble radar. Also, they may not even mind even if it did. I do think there is some copyright issues there, though. Just one opinion, though. There are many different interpretations out there.

Liza
03/07/2008 05:17:26 PM · #6
You can be certain that if Hasbro caught wind of it, they would be compelled to file suit simply to prevent others from jumping on the bandwagon with 'more infringing' trademark threats.
03/07/2008 05:20:06 PM · #7
Although examining the pics a bit more, is she removing the scrabble letter and score from the tiles? If so, then there should be no issue as long as she removes the 'vintage scrabble tile' designation from her marketing materials.
03/07/2008 06:16:35 PM · #8
All they are are a small square piece of wood with no identifiable markings on them except what she puts on them. You can't copyright small square pieces of wood by themselves. At least that is my opinion. You could get you a bunch of 1"x1" (or what ever size you wanted them to be) hardwood stock, a bandsaw or scroll saw and cut your own squares. There are a bunch of places that sell exotic and other hardwoods like that for turning and making other things. By making them yourself, you can made different thicknesses or sizes to meet her creative designs.

She's done a nice job by the way.

Mike
03/08/2008 08:45:13 AM · #9
I agree with Mike about the small piece of wood part. But in at elast one of the images she has the letter and the little subscript score still there. That is the recognizable Scrabble part. If she were just using the blanks I think it would be harder to say it's not okay.

I think they're lovely and cool, BTW. I like them!

Liza
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