Ever since Daniel Swarovski invented his faceting machine, crystal beads have been in demand by high-fashion designers all around the world. Crystal beads are more popular than ever, and for good reason: who can resist the sparkle and shine of a beautiful crystal bead? No matter what their effect in a jewelry design, crystals captivate us with their gemlike sparkle. Wedding dresses, hair pieces and beaded jewelry are often sprinkled with crystals, illuminating a unique brilliance on a most special day. Crystals also adorn countless designer gowns, handbags, shoes and other accessories. Wonderful faceted crystal beads cast a spell on us that is impossible to shake. Is it any surprise that we are entranced by the shimmering delights of crystals and want to showcase them in our handmade beaded jewelry?
1. US copyright law automatically protects your work the moment you turn an idea into something material: a sketch, written instructions, a piece of beaded jewelry, or all three.
2. Your beadwork or drawing does not need to be published or displayed to the public to receive copyright protection. And the protection is free.
3. If you plan to sell and/or teach what you've created, consider filing for copyright protection. Should you ever need to sue for infringement, your suit will proceed more quickly if your registration is on record.
4. To prove copyright infringement, you must demonstrate to the court that the work of the infringing part is substantially similar to yours as well as that he/she had access to your work and copied it.
5. If you have developed a design you are convinced will become a long-term best seller, you might want to apply for a design patent from the US Patent Office. The process is slow and expensive and requires a patent attorney. If you do this, you won't get your design to market right away. The advantage of a patent is that if you sue for infringement, you need only prove that the offending work is substantially similar to yours.
Source: Adapted from 'Copyright Basics for Designing Beaders', Beadwork, Marlene Blessing, Interweave Press, October-November 2010.