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RE: Proprietary Templates?

Hi Colin,

As a graphic designer with some experience in copyright issues, I would
advise against using the larger company's templates. "Look and feel" is just
another term for design. And the design of a document or template, not just
its specific content, is protected by copyright law. 

It's certainly understandable that you would want to recycle an existing
template. But I think the tremendous amount of work necessary to design new
templates would ultimately pay off in many ways, the least of which is
forging a new and unique identity for your emerging company.

Good Luck!

Ari M. Weinstein
mailto:ari@ariw.com   | http://www.ariw.com
Graphic Design, Software and Consulting

-----Original Message-----
From: Colin Green [mailto:cgreen@illuminet.com]
Sent: Monday, 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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