Legal Question in Intellectual Property in California

I sold one shirt on Etsy for around $15 with the quote “Still I Rise” on it and now Maya Angelou’s company is attempting to fine me $250 for infringement though I’ve already taken the item down from my shop. I have more information on the exact language they’re using but in short - is there anyway around me not having to pay this fee? I really don’t have the funds for this. Thanks so much in advance.

Asked on 4/26/20, 10:28 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Frank Natoli Natoli-Legal, LLC

It depends on how this was used. I assume they are alleging a trademark infringement? That is, you can't copyright a short phrase like this. So if you are not otherwise copying any other creative expression like artwork, poetry, images, graphics, etc. and you are not using Angelou's name, image or likeness then the only thing I can think of that they are complaining of is that it infringes their trademark.

Before you respond in any way, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss the specifics and best course of action in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

If you would like to discuss further over a free phone consult, feel free to contact me anytime that is convenient.

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DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.

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Answered on 4/27/20, 8:41 am

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