Intellectual Property Forum The Intellectual Property Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

We are looking for moderators.  Message the admin if interested.

Author Topic: Ethics of creating an exercise where it's not possible to anonymize the sources?  (Read 568 times)

MYK

  • Lead Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4176
    • View Profile

Note, there are really two parts to this, one an ethics issue and the other a copyright fair use issue, which is why I put it in the Copyright section.

I have an exercise intended for an advanced patent law class which is based on real-world information.  The problem is that the situation was real and the parties involved are existing businesses.  Even if I were to change the names, it would be trivial for a student to look them up.  I also have screenshots of the companies' websites to show the relevant physical products.  (The products are not the photos themselves or the websites the images were on;  the products are mechanical devices being sold, e.g., a bicycle hub or a toaster oven.)  I could conceivably cut this down to a single screenshot of one product, and rely on the government-published "free to the world" patent information for the other.

Any thoughts on this from an ethics standpoint?  Is it a problem?  Any potential liability for disclosing a company's legal liabilities (where there is no attorney-client privilege involved)?

Would fair use apply for the screenshots since it is for academic use?  What if I were to attempt to sell the exercise commercially?  Regarding the "four factors":
1. the use in an exercise is substantially different from the original use of product marketing;  I don't know if this would count as "transformative".
2. I can remove most of the creative aspects of the screenshots to show just the products, if necessary.
3. See 2.
4. the images themselves are not the products and are not themselves being sold, so I don't see that they would impact the market for or value of the products. 
Logged
"The life of a patent solicitor has always been a hard one."  Judge Giles Rich, Application of Ruschig, 379 F.2d 990.

Disclaimer: not only am I not a lawyer, I'm not your lawyer.  Therefore, this does not constitute legal advice.

Tobmapsatonmi

  • Lead Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 997
    • View Profile

No one's responded so I'll take a whack at it.  But ethics is not my forte (read that any way you want), nor copyright, so take the following with a grain of salt.

On the website screenshot question, I could imagine the company could still complain of copyright violation despite their having no monetary damages.  But would they anyway, if they caught wind of your class and were for some reason upset about it?  Can you get a shutterstock type fee use image of that product instead?  Or go shoot a photo of the product yourself?  No worries about using the patent drawings on the other product, of course.

On the ethics question, I can't see how a complaint could arise if I understand you correctly that you are just using public information and your own knowledge.  Law firms often give real life summaries of legal actions, including naming names, etc., in "lessons learned" type CLE classes.

I'm not clear on what's going on in your case, though.  Are you going to describe a real-life lawsuit or are you going to describe something that probably should be a real-life lawsuit, if only the 2 companies were aware of it?  Even if so, I still don't know how your recognition of a potential legal issue (and their current ignorance of the same) implicates you from an ethics standpoint. 

Still, there's potential defamation, I guess, if you'll basically be calling Company B an infringer in your class, and they want to take issue with that.
Logged

MYK

  • Lead Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4176
    • View Profile

Real-world situation, where the alleged infringer was sent a cease-and-desist.  However, the alleged infringer actually isn't infringing, and it's moderately obvious once you go through the claims.
Logged
"The life of a patent solicitor has always been a hard one."  Judge Giles Rich, Application of Ruschig, 379 F.2d 990.

Disclaimer: not only am I not a lawyer, I'm not your lawyer.  Therefore, this does not constitute legal advice.
 



Footer

www.intelproplaw.com

Terms of Use
Feel free to contact us:
Sorry, spam is killing us.

iKnight Technologies Inc.

www.intelproplaw.com

Page created in 0.208 seconds with 20 queries.