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John, you did not state what items are TM or Copyrighted. But let’s clear up some notions.
Copyright=By virtue of creation an item is copyrighted. you do not need to register it or anything else. If you scribble a poem on a bar napkin, it is copyright protected by its creation. Also mailing something to yourself (song, poem) does not stand in a US court of law as proof of date of creation. Just a myth.
TM=Trademark. You can use the TM mark on anything you feel needs to be protected without registering it. As example my slogan is “A Photo Captures but a Moment in Time:
Video Captures a Lifetime in a Moment” because this is now an identifying statement with my company it is more or less a brand, so I can put TM next to it. But it is not a (circle with an R inside) Registered TM. So I can’t use the Circle R. However if someone uses this slogan I can sue, but without the protection of the Circle R it is harder for me to prove.
Circle R= This is a Registered Trademark. It is protected by international laws and takes a lot of money and paperwork to get that little R.
Patient= You create a new device, or method of doing something. you do not have to make the device (Ernestine really helped here his first job was in a patient office, a Thought Exercise that can be put on paper can be patented) This is the strongest protection you can get.
Logos=A logo is an intellectual icon that can be identified with a company, the C in Coca Cola, the Switch in Nike. These logos are considered intellectual property because they represent the company, and are highly protected.
Why all the protection, say Mr Smith wants to make a video, an movie or short what ever, and in the video is hum…say a laptop with the Apple logo on it, and in the video the laptop is used in a bad crime, Apple could make the claim that the video was demeaning on the way the logo was represented, and thus sue your company.
So yes you need written and kept on file forever and ever permission to use copyrighted or TM or RTM or P or IP. Your work will be protected as well and you would also want it protected in the even of misuse.
I have a branch of my company that I do advertising work for several companies
This is an ongoing issue with some of the owners, and I have to gently remind them of copyright use laws, and I have also had to contact several companies to get written permission to use stuff, and in many cases I do not get it. If you watch this advert, first one.
You may be able to notice that everything in every scene that shows a copyrighted name, logo or design was covered or altered. I just could not obtain that many permissions, some we were able to.
The 15 second rule or the arts rule or public domain rule. These are currently being contested, they will be upheld because of the public school system. But the MPAA, the RIAA and sites like youtube are using the public forum to make it unacceptable to use any copyrighted material for any reason at any time. In fact Time-Warner bought the rights to “happy Birthday” song, if you watch shows and movies since the early 2000’s they no long use it, because you have to pay to use it now. It was once believed that if the artist was dead after so many years or unknown the work was public domain, but more and more works are being “bought” and protected that are in public domain and the courts are honoring the purchase. There is a case in court now where the rights to some unpublished children’s stories are being fought over. A company published them in books and the surviving family members are fighting it, the family will loose.
But yes for your protection and to be fair to the creators do get permission. I may not agree with the method the RIAA and the MPAA chooses to go about what they are doing, but I do feel that use of material needs to be protected and honored.