Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Relying On Reputation.

Byline: Emily Van Cleve For the Journal

Santa Fe jewelers don't try to compete with companies who steal their designs and sell copies for a fraction of the original price

Within a week of making his first dozen Earcuffs in 1978, Santa Fe jeweler Ross LewAllen knew he had a hit on his hands. The Earcuff was not only attractive, but it allowed women who didn't have their ears pierced to wear something really decorative and unusual.

LewAllen decided to copyright the Earcuff name. "I was into the idea that this was my design," he said.

Copyrighting jewelry designs and names may seem like a foolproof way to keep others from stealing an artistic idea. But in practice, there is little to prevent others from copying and marketing jewelry designs.

Charles Armgardt, an Albuquerque attorney with the law firm Modrall, Sperling, Roehl, Harris and Sisk, has represented plaintiffs and defendants in cases of design copyright infringement and knows that such cases can be tied up in the courts for years.

To have a good chance of successfully proving that a company stole a design, he says, it's important to know how much revenue your company has lost and how much revenue the other company has generated from the design. …

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