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James D. Williams

James D. Williams

IP and Family Law Attorney - Tingen & Williams, PLLC
  • Intellectual Property, Trademarks, Entertainment & Sports Law ...
  • Eastern District of Virginia, Virginia
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I focus my practice on intellectual property law and family law.

I graduated from the University of Richmond School of Law and was accepted to the Virginia Bar in 2019. I earned the Intellectual Property Certificate as well as the Auzville Jackson Jr. award for excellence in intellectual property.

I am excited to assist artists, business owners, and content creators with their contract, trademark, and copyright concerns.

I've expanded my practice to include assisting clients in family law matters, estate planning, and business law. Whether the case is contested or non-contested, I am committed to helping his clients pursue the best possible outcome.

Regardless of whether I'm consulting a content creator or a spouse, I will develop a creative solution to best suit the client’s needs.

Practice Areas
  • Intellectual Property
  • Trademarks
  • Entertainment & Sports Law
  • Business Law
  • Family Law
  • Divorce
  • Free Consultation
  • Credit Cards Accepted
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
Eastern District of Virginia
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Virginia State Bar
ID Number: 95064
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Professional Experience
Tingen & Williams, PLLC
- Current
Family Law cases such as divorce and custody, special immigrant juvenile status, contracts drafting and review, trademark and copyright law
Document Review/Contract Attorney
Hitaffer & Hitaffer, PLLC
Assisted supervising attorney with patent and trademark prosecution
Legal Intern
Virginia Poverty Law Center
Conducted legal and non-legal research for family law issues, Drafted legal memoranda
University of Richmond School of Law
J.D. (2019) | Intellectual Property
Honors: Auzville Jackson Jr. Award, Intellectual Property Certificate, Order of Barristers, Pro Bono Certificate
Activities: Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Journal of Law & Technology, Law Peer Sexual Misconduct Advisor, Student Intellectual Property Law Association, Trial Advocacy Board
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University of Tennessee - Knoxville
B.A. (2015) | Political Science, Philosophy, Business Administration
Activities: Visual Arts Committee, American Mock Trial Association, Tennessee Intercollegiate Supreme Court
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Professional Associations
Virginia State Bar  # 95064
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Lawyers for the Arts
- Current
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Virginia Trial Lawyers Association
- Current
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Greater Richmond Intellectual Property Lawyers Association
- Current
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Websites & Blogs
Firm Page
Legal Answers
7 Questions Answered

Q. Use of Superhero Images - Marvel & DC
A: Comic characters/superheroes can contain both copyrights and trademarks. As such, there are two types of intellectual property rights associated with both. You need a license for the copyrights associated with the actual images/drawings of the characters. You need a license for the trademarks associated with the Marvel/DC branding logos as well as some of the character logos. Marvel/DC do not have protection over general superhero tropes or themes, but they do have copyright protection over the features of the superheroes that make them unique from other characters/heroes. It's better to create your own characters unless you want to reach out and pay them a license to use their images and such. If you create your own, then you want to make them as unique as possible. If you take a character like superman and then only change minor things, then you could still be at risk. It'll ultimately depend on the nature of changes and the type of IP (copyright or trademark) as to the level of change needed. There's no magic formula or percentage amount of changes to make to guarantee you have transformed a copyrighted work or a registered trademark enough to avoid infringement. You may run into the problem of transforming the copyrighted work to the point of it becoming a derivative work, which would also require a separate license. Derivative works are basically new works that are substantially based on the primary copyrighted work, or if you think of taking a copyrighted character and putting them in a different story line or setting. Fair use is a legal defense where you admit you have fully copied the copyrighted work, but you claim to have a justification. If you're wrong, then you have admitted to copying the work on the record. There are 4 factors the court uses for each case to see if there is a fair use in that instance. No two cases are exactly the same. It's tricky. Think about fair use like this. When an art teacher posts a picture of a painting to discuss in class, they are only using the work to the extent necessary and for commentary/criticism. If it's found that you used more of a work than necessary for the purpose you have and/or your purpose isn't one of the commonly accepted ones, then you are at a high risk of being liable for copyright infringement. The commonly accepted forms of fair use are using the copyrighted work for criticism, commentary, and news reporting. If your use of the character image is not for one of those, then it becomes an incredibly high bar to clear to show you have a fair use, if not impossible. Especially if you plan on selling the app, it's safer to either create your own superheroes or to seek out Marvel/DC to pay for a license.
Q. My wife just passed we were living apart for 5 years no formal separation agreement. She opened credit cards on her own
A: Virginia would not consider you divorced unless you filed for divorce. From there, intestacy procedures and the terms of the contract for the credit cards would apply. In theory, you should be able to contact the credit card companies and close out the accounts if they are solely in your wife's name. If she truly doesn't have a will, then she died intestate. In Virginia, the system generally works that the estate would go to the surviving spouse, but if there are pension plans, 401K plans, life insurance plans, or transfer on death deeds that designate beneficiaries, then regardless of her marriage status, those will go to the designated beneficiary. You should check in with an estate planning attorney to ensure these details are correct because the distribution can be affected by many variables, such as if your wife had children from a prior marriage, etc.
Q. My father died in 2018, he left me and my brothers everything but he was still married.
A: If your father did not receive an absolute divorce decree, then yes she would be entitled to something. However, the extent of what your mother would be entitled to is based on the length of marriage and size of the estate. She could potentially have a claim for 50% of the augmented estate, which includes many different things. Even if there were a valid will, Virginia will not allow people to disinherit spouses either expressly or by omission. Virginia also does not recognize "legal separation," like some states, but we do have divorce a mensa et thoro which is similar. That type of divorce is typically one where one spouse is able to remain on benefits of the other spouse, such as insurance. For inheritance purposes, it does not "count" as a divorce, though. If the judge had filed a final decree of divorce, then the will, if valid, would have been sufficient to disinherit her. If she were listed as a designated beneficiary for life insurance, pension plans/401K's, then she would most likely still have a claim to it. If she were listed as an owner of the house, then her interest may remain, but it depends on the exact ownership type she had.
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Contact & Map
Tingen & Williams, PLLC
1801 Bayberry Court, Suite 203
Richmond, VA 23226
Telephone: (804) 477-1720