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RE: Proprietary Templates?


I can't make up your mind for you, but I can tell you that if there is a
possibility of the other company coming back and "asking" that you not use
the templates, they probably will, and if their counsel wants, may even
present a lawsuit.

In the early 90s, Lotus Development sued Borland for the "look and feel" of
the spreadsheet menuing format. I wouldn't be surprised that if a company
paid for the development of their templates, that they will have a
proprietary interest in keeping them branded as theirs. 

IMO, the techniques used in the template can be re-used, but the overall
look and feel would need to be reworked to protect this company's property
and branding.


-----Original Message-----
From: Colin Green [mailto:cgreen@illuminet.com]
Sent: January 03, 2000 12:55 PM
To: framers@omsys.com
Subject: Proprietary Templates?

Happy New Year Fellow Framers, 

Question. Can "templates" be proprietary? For example, lets say that a
corporation has a Frame template that they've had designed for them. If you
remove any trademark or other overtly proprietary text and graphics, are
these templates then "fair game" for someone else to use? 

The reason I ask is not that I personally want to plagiarize a template.
Here's the situation.  I work for a third-party company that produces
software and manuals that go out under the name of another, larger company.
The larger company supplied the Frame templates for their look-and-feel: as
the tech writer, I fill in the blanks. However, the small company I work for
is now planning to sell product straight out of our shop, bypassing the
larger company, using our trademark, etc., on everything. 

I'm assuming that I need to create a template(s) specific to the
look-and-feel of our company proper. This will require time and planning.
However, I expect my boss to ask to me just to do the aforementioned
"plagiarism". That is, remove the name and logo of the large company and run
with their template. Is it legal? Is it ethical? It makes me nervous. The
large company is already going to be hot under the collar as we bust out on
our own. Recognizing their templates is unlikely to please them, as well.

Personally, I prefer to do my own design if for no other reason that I have
to use the bloody thing. I like to do my own customization. Furthermore, I
understand all too clearly the necessity to "brand" a company image.
However, folks around here lack publication savvy and are, naturally, in a
big hurry to get stuff out the door. They don't have much patience for talk
of "look-and-feel". That is, I need to justify the time and expense to
create new templates, which I can't justify if this plagiarism is, in the
words of the boss, "doable".

Let me know. Thanks!


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