The Dobrusin Law Firm - Intellectual Property

Strategic Intellectual Property Law

Month: June 2022

Rebecca Wilson Inducted Into the Italian American Chamber of Commerce

We are delighted to announce that Dobrusin Law Firm shareholder Rebecca Wilson has been inducted into the Italian American Chamber of Commerce.

For more than 100 years, the Chamber and its members have supported many worthwhile charitable and business activities. The organization’s approximately 170 members contribute to the entrepreneurial spirit, goodwill, and success of the Southeastern Michigan Italian-American community.

The Chamber is one of several organizations to which Becky donates her time, talent, and efforts. She is the secretary elect for Kiwanis Club of Macomb and a member of the Women’s Bar Association. She also volunteers with A Beautiful Me, which assists young women with confidence-building activities. To give back to the community, her pro bono work includes organizations such as The Daisy Project-MI and The Butterfly Collective as well as a new organization, Maddog Mania, recently established in honor of local football coach, Jim Madigan.

Becky devotes her practice to copyright protection and trademark prosecution from inception to registration. From new to ongoing branding initiatives, she understands her clients’ needs and works tirelessly to reach their desired goals.

We are proud of Becky’s dedication to supporting our community.

Becky Wilson IP Lawyer

Eric Hydorn and The Dobrusin Law Firm Support the Par Fore Pontiac Charity Golf Classic

The Dobrusin Law Firm was a proud sponsor of the Catholic Community Response Team’s Par Fore Charity Golf Classic outing. Attorney Eric Hydorn’s foursome hit the links in support of the charity’s efforts.

The Catholic Community Response Team provides direct support and referral services to those whose basic daily necessities are unmet, primarily within Pontiac, Michigan. They assist with immediate food and household needs and long-term services like eviction prevention and stopping utility shut-offs.

The Team hosts numerous fundraising events, including the golf outing and holiday celebrations at Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving, to underwrite the costs incurred in pursuit of the organization’s critical mission.

Using a Photo on Your Website Without Permission? Picture Yourself Being Sued for Copyright Infringement.

Every business with a website –99 percent of businesses – wants their site to attract eyeballs and, ultimately, customers. They want their social media posts to pop. Photos and images are an essential part of website and social media engagement. The internet is full of millions of photos a company can easily download and upload to its website or include with its social media posts. But someone took those pictures and owns the rights to them. And if your business uses someone else’s photos without their permission, you expose yourself to a costly and disruptive copyright infringement claim.

Online Photos and Copyright Law

The photos you took of your family vacation, your dog, or one of your products – you own the copyright to all of them. This is the case even if you haven’t registered your copyright with the United States Copyright Office or used a © symbol or phrase such as “copyright-protected material” in connection with the photo.

The author or creator of a creative work – such as a book or article, movie, music, painting, or photograph – automatically and instantly obtains a copyright to that work upon its creation. Unless the photographer has assigned their rights to someone else, the photographer holds a copyright to the photo they took. While registering a copyright provides its owner with additional protections and rights under the law, a copyright owner has the right to control how their work is used and who uses it without affirmatively doing anything.

This includes the right to exclude others from reproducing or distributing the work or creating a “derivative work,” such as altering an existing copyrighted image with Photoshop or similar software. So, if a photographer stumbled upon one of their photos on your business’s website or in a post, they would have a valid claim for copyright infringement. Importantly, your state of mind when you uploaded the photo is irrelevant. Claiming you didn’t know you were infringing on someone’s rights is not a valid defense.

Things become even more treacherous if the image’s owner registered their photo or image with the Copyright Office. While the copyright owner can seek to recover any actual damages or losses they incurred because of the infringement, they can also obtain an award of damages from an infringer without showing they suffered any harm at all. They can seek to recover “statutory damages” from $750 to $30,000 per violation, along with their attorneys’ fees. Statutory damages for willful infringement can reach as much as $150,000 per act of infringement.

How to Avoid Copyright Infringement for Website Photos

Many claims of infringement for the unauthorized use of a copyrighted image on a commercial website are resolved without costly litigation by the user simply taking down the picture in response to a cease-and-desist letter. But there is no guarantee that the copyright owner won’t pursue the matter or demand a settlement payment to waive any infringement claims.

To avoid such problems, keep in mind these tips before uploading an image that you or your company did not create to your site:

  • Always presume a digital image or photo you find on the internet is copyrighted.
  • If you find a photo or image on the internet that you would like to use on your website, check to see if there is information about licensing or using the image on the site where you found it. If not, try to identify the copyright owner and ask them for a license.
  • If you do obtain a license, pay attention to the fine print; be sure you are allowed to use it for your intended purpose. Some licenses only allow very limited use, and some specifically exclude commercial use i.e., on your business website.
  • If you do not obtain a license or express permission to use an online image, do not use it. Train your staff and marketing department about these risks.
  • If you work with a web developer or marketing company that posts content on your site or elsewhere, make sure you have an agreement in which they agree to indemnify you for any damages based on copyright infringement.

If you have questions about using photos, images, or art on your commercial website, please contact one of the copyright attorneys at The Dobrusin Law Firm.

Katherine Pacynski Receives Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Regional Leadership Award

At its recent annual meeting, the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan honored Dobrusin Law Firm shareholder Katie Pacynski with its Regional Leadership Award.

Each year, WLAM recognizes outstanding advocacy for the advancement of women, judiciary role models, and regional development. The Regional Leadership Award recognizes an attorney who has taken significant actions to advance the position and goals of WLAM or recognize and satisfy the needs of WLAM or its members through their work and activities.

Katie has been a consistent role model for community service, dedication to the advancement of women lawyers in Michigan, and support of the WLAM. Katie recently completed her cycle on the Executive Board of the Women’s Bar Association (WBA), which represents the Oakland region of WLAM, serving as the immediate past president. From 2020 to 2021, she served as president of the WBA, and before that, she served terms as president-elect, vice president, and recording secretary.

We congratulate Katie on her service to WLAM and this well-deserved award!

Pictured: WLAM 2021-22 President Ryan Kelly, Katie Pacynski, and Incoming WLAM President and Dobrusin Shareholder Erin Klug

WLAM Foundation Chair Kristen Pursley Announces 2022 Scholarship Recipients

The Women Lawyers Association of Michigan recently held its annual meeting at the Detroit Zoo. During the event, Dobrusin Law Firm managing partner and Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Foundation Chair, Kristen Pursley announced the recipients of twelve scholarships, totaling $42,000, to some of Michigan’s brightest law students.

Each spring, the foundation makes financial awards to law students based on:

  • Demonstrated leadership capabilities.
  • Community service in such areas as family law, child advocacy, or domestic violence.
  • Commitment to diversity.
  • Potential for advancing the position of women in society.

The WLAM Foundation partners with the legal community to make these scholarships possible. This year’s awards were generously funded by contributions from The Dobrusin Law Firm and 11 other law firms and corporations. The recipients of the 2022 scholarships are:

  • Jennifer Anton, Michigan State University College of Law – Jean Ledwith King Scholar, sponsored by the members of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan.
  • Aniela Bosca, Western Michigan University Cooley School of Law – Miller Canfield Scholar, sponsored by Miller Canfield.
  • Dominica Convertino, Wayne State University Law School – Dawn Van Hoek Scholar, sponsored by the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Foundation.
  • Fatima Dakroub, Wayne State University Law School – Dickinson Wright Scholar, sponsored by the Dickinson Wright Women’s Network.
  • Liza Davis, University of Michigan Law School – Kim Cahill Scholar, sponsored by the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Foundation.
  • Jennifer Fahrenholt, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law – John Dalton and Mary Lou Peacock Scholar, sponsored by Peacock Law Firm.
  • Evelyn Galvan, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law – General Motors Scholar, sponsored by General Motors Corporation.
  • Dashaya Foreman, University of Michigan Law School – Masco Scholar, sponsored by Masco Corporation.
  • Samantha Mackereth, Wayne State University Law School – General Motors Scholar, sponsored by General Motors Corporation.
  • You Qu, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School – Masco Scholar, sponsored by Masco Corporation.
  • Estella Park Riahi, Michigan State University College of Law – Dobrusin Law Scholar, sponsored by The Dobrusin Law Firm.
  • Allison Zweng, University of Michigan Law School – Florence King Patent Law Scholar, sponsored by Women Patent Lawyers.

The Dobrusin Law Firm is proud to support these and many other promising future attorneys as they help us work towards a stronger, healthier, more diverse community in Michigan and beyond. Congratulations to all the recipients who inspire us and embody the many values we champion in our professional practice.

Since 1997, the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Foundation has awarded more than $730,000 in scholarships to more than 280 women law students. For more information, please click here.

Fundraising efforts have proved particularly challenging over the last two years due to the pandemic. Key events that raise over $10,000 on an annual basis for the Foundation have been canceled, but corporate and firm sponsors have continued their support making this year’s scholarships possible. In addition, Kristen and Foundation are pleased to announce that the Bench Bar Culinary challenge is back. After a two-year hiatus, the event will take place on August 16, 2022, at the home of Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly.

Erin Klug Sworn in as WLAM President for 2022-23

On Friday, June 3, 2022, the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM) held its 104th annual meeting at the Detroit Zoo. Dobrusin Law Firm shareholder Erin Klug was sworn in as the organization’s president during the program. She has served on WLAM’s board of directors since 2016.

The theme for the 2022-23 year is the Power of the Pack, built on the notion that women can do a lot of good as a group and originating from an idea from Brooke Baldwin’s Huddle. As Erin conveyed in her first President’s Message:

The book discusses the concept of how women unlock their collective power together – by being together, having each other, and leaning on one another. Whether facing adversity (like workplace inequity or a global pandemic) or organizing to make the world a better place, women are a highly potent resource for one another. 

Erin is no stranger to leading professional groups. From 2010 to 2019, she served on the board of directors (and president from 2017 to 2018) of the Women’s Bar Association, which represents the Oakland Region of the WLAM. She is also the chair-elect of the State Bar of Michigan’s Animal Law Section Council and an officer with two non-profits – Attorneys for Animals and The Barn Sanctuary.

Nearly 300 attendees enjoyed the festive atmosphere and near-perfect spring weather, taking advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and meet “virtual” friends in person. Erin was surrounded by and supported by many of her peers and friends, including colleagues from The Dobrusin Law Firm, the event’s Gold Sponsor.

We congratulate Erin for her inspirational leadership, years of valuable service to WLAM and other organizations, and tireless commitment to our Michigan legal community. We wish her success during her tenure as WLAM’s new president.

Women’s Bar Association Holds Successful Annual Dinner Event, Thanks to Katie Pacynski and The Dobrusin Law Firm

The Women’s Bar Association (WBA) held its annual dinner at the Birmingham Athletic Club on May 26, 2022, and as the event’s Gold Sponsor, The Dobrusin Law Firm’s presence was widely seen at the event.

The WBA, representing the Oakland Region of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, seeks to advance the interests of women in the legal profession and promote equality for all. Three Dobrusin attorneys have led the organization as president – Kristen Pursley (2016-17), Erin Klug (2017-18), and most recently, Katherine Pacynski (2020-21).

As immediate past president and in her final responsibility before stepping off the WBA Executive Board, Katie planned the gala, including a cocktail hour, appetizers, and a full-capacity sit-down dinner for the attorneys, judges, and families in attendance. Katie also introduced the new board for 2022-23.

During the program, retired Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford Morris received the Joan Young Judicial Excellence Award (presented by Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Kameshia Gant), and Channelle Kizy-White received the Evelyn Forrest Distinguished Advocate Award.

Additionally, outgoing WBA President Kristina Bilowus honored Katie Pacynski with the Model Leader Award for her contributions to the board, describing Katie as “one of the most effective past WBA presidents in recent memory.”

We congratulate Katie for planning a fantastic event, her years of valuable service to the WBA, and her well-deserved recognition!

Contact Information

The Dobrusin Law Firm
29 W. Lawrence St.
Suite 210
Pontiac, MI 48342

Phone: 248-292-2920
Fax: 248-292-2910
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