ANSWER: Your first step should be contacting an attorney who works with copyright laws. Copyright laws do protect intellectual property, including creative works such as drawings. An attorney should be able to guide you through the sometimes-complicated legal process. It’s difficult to give you an exact cost, as attorneys charge varying rates. Some charge hourly, while others may charge a flat fee for such a service. Some attorneys offer a free consultation.

There are several attorneys in the Lewiston-Auburn area who offer legal advice on matters involving intellectual property. Among them are:

Brann & Isaacson, 184 Main St., Lewiston; phone is (207) 786-3566.

Skelton, Taintor & Abbott in Auburn, 95 Main St. You can reach them by phone at (207) 784-3200.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Thank you so much for all that you give us. I read your column every day, and I hope you can help me.

I am wondering if there are consumer protection laws out there for my situation. About three months ago, I responded to an advertisement in my mail from a company that sells collectible coins, offering a collectible coin and a watch as a bonus for $19.95. I responded and paid the asking price. I wanted to give it to a relative for his/her birthday. Along with my order, they sent me something else I did not order or authorize. Now, they are after me to pay $119.95 plus a $7 late fee, to which they will add more every month.

I am dead set not to let them blackmail me into their coin collection business and I do not wish to embark on a hobby I am not interested in and cannot afford. Along with the bill they sent me, they also sent me more offers to buy more. They have sold my name to other companies and I get offers now by mail.

I hope you can advise me on how I can take care of this matter once and for all. Also, I hope I have a legal right that says I am not liable for items sent to me without my permission. Thank you so much for any suggestions. — No Name, Lewiston.

ANSWER: Sun Spots cannot stress this enough: ALWAYS read the fine print before responding to offers on television, online or in the mail. All of the old adages — if it seems too good to be true, buyer beware, etc. — are true when it comes to these types of situations. Mail order companies offering “amazing” deals on items are often attempting to lure you into purchasing other items, joining buying clubs, or committing to future purchases.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way out of this. You should start by contacting the company directly in writing, expressing your dissatisfaction. Be prepared to return the unwanted items, and formally ask them to cease contact with you. If that doesn’t work, your next step should be filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Use the QR code to go to Sun Spots online for additional information and links. This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can be emailed to [email protected], tweeted @SJ_SunSpots or posted on the Sun Spots Facebook page at facebook.com/SunJournalSunSpots. This column can also be read online at sunjournal.com/sunspots. We’ve joined Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/sj_sunspots.


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