How do I start the process of suing someone for stealing my design idea? 5 Answers as of December 20, 2013

I have copyright for t-shirt design idea. I shared this idea with someone. Now I found out that this person ordering t-shirts with my design. I have an approval that this person trying to order it in China. I have an e-mail with his personal e-mail address. Can I represent myself in court? How much money can I sue?

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Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
Copyright law is a federal action so you'll have to sue in federal court, either in your district or the district of the infringer. Procedure in federal court is complex so hire an attorney. Copyright statutes determine how much you can be awarded for damages. Attorney fees are also possible.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 12/20/2013
Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
You should first send a certified cease and deist letter that notifies them that they are infringing on your design. You should provide them proof that you are the owner of the copyright by giving them the filing or registration number. You can represent your self in court. You can sue them for the loss of profit on the shirts. You can calculate and prove your damages by showing the loss of sales before they began to sell the t-shirt design and after they started selling an infringing design. The court will require proof of the potential loss to award damages.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/20/2013
Mark S. Hubert PC
Mark S. Hubert PC | Mark Hubert
Only a fool has himself as a client! If you were competent enough to represent yourself in court then you would not be writing me for legal advice. First you must have a federally registered copyright to bring an action in court. Second it will have to be brought in federal court not state court. Third you can sue for statutory damages and attorney fees if you have registered the copyright within 90 days of first publication, otherwise you can sue for damages. I suggest sending a cease and desist letter at this point if they are not yet selling your design.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 12/20/2013
Law Office of Robert M. White, PLLC
Law Office of Robert M. White, PLLC | Robert M. White
While copyright protection for a qualifying work attaches as soon as the creative work is put into a tangible form, a copyright owner cannot bring a copyright infringement suit until that copyright is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. If registered, the copyright owner can file a complaint against the alleged infringer while also supplying copies of the complaint to the Copyright Office and the alleged infringer. Although an individual can represent themselves in a copyright infringement suit, it is not recommended. Proper form as to the complaint can be important let alone the procedures that must be followed in proving one's case in a court of law. As for damages, a copyright owner may be entitled to whatever actual damages have been caused by the infringement or statutory damages, which are determined by the court in light of the circumstances of infringement. In this case, it may be worthwhile to contact the individual, informing him or her that you're aware of their activity and that you will take necessary steps to prevent their continued infringement. In fact, plaintiffs generally have a duty to mitigate damages which, here, would require some action to limit the extent of the infringing activity since there's knowledge that it exists.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 12/20/2013
Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
In order to bring a federal lawsuit for copyright infringement you must first register your design copyright with the Copyright Office in Washington, DC. Visit for the forms to do this. After the registration has been issued you can sue for damages in Federal Court. While you can represent yourself you should seek the assistance of a copyright lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 12/20/2013
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