Yes. Unlike many other areas of law which are state-specific, trademarks and copyrights are protected under federal law. This means that our firm can assist you and your business in any state. We are able to communicate with clients effectively through email, phone, and video chat. Contact us to see how we can help.
A trademark is form of intellectual property protection that applies to words, logos, slogans, or symbols. A trademark helps a customer identify the source of a particular good or service. Trademarks are registered through the application process with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
You can recognize a trademark by the tiny "TM" or "R" symbol next to a mark, usually located on the lower right. The use of "TM" means that the trademark has not yet been registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The use of the "R" symbol indicates that the owner of the mark has a trademark registration. Some examples of famous trademarks are Nike, Apple, Google, AT&T, and Coca-Cola.
Registering a trademark can be an important step in building on a strong reputation for a product or service. The most valuable asset of Nike is not the shoe. The most valuable asset of Apple is not the iPhone. Their most valuable assets are their brand names and the visual representation of those names: the Nike name and swoosh and the Apple name and bitten apple symbol.
A trademark lawyer can advise you on legal issues regarding existing trademark applications, registrations, and/or common law trademark rights that might help you save money in the long run. For more information about trademarks or to discuss registration of your trademarks, contact us.
The real question is why wouldn't you protect what you've built?
Building a business that proudly offers quality products and/or services takes enormous amounts of hard work, dedication, and courage. The effective branding of those products or services takes valuable time and creativity. It only seems fitting to protect your considerable effort and investment. Think of the sales you might lose if another company opened up down the street using your same name.
As you would guard your personal and financial information, as a business owner, you need to take proper steps to protect your brand identity in order for it to remain your brand identity.
When you use a name, logo, or slogan as a trademark without registering it, you do gain some level of protection from consistent use over time. This protection is known as "common law" trademark protection. Common law trademark protection is geographically limited. It only grants you protection where you've been using the mark. If you launch your business and only selling products or services in New Orleans but plan to expand beyond that, you will not be protected outside of New Orleans. Anyone could start using your mark in Miami, or in Chicago, or anywhere else in the country and you would have no rights to stop them. You also would not be able to expand under that trademark in those areas.
Federal trademark registration gives you immediate federal protection throughout the entire United States regardless of where you're currently operating. It provides constructive notice of your trademark ownership, evidence of and a presumption of ownership, federal court jurisdiction if you have to sue to prevent infringement, the opportunity to obtain foreign registration, and the opportunity to file with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent importation of foreign goods that infringe on your trademark.
If you are ready to launch a new product, or you are about to start a business, is it safe to use the proposed name you picked as your trademark?
Here's an example: You set up a retail location and website and call it ACME. You have decided against doing a trademark search. Your company invests in advertising (print, TV, online). Thanks to the advertising, ACME is making a lot of money and is growing in popularity. Then one day, you receive a cease and desist letter via certified mail from the attorney of another company named ACME.
The attorney states in her letter that her client ACME is the owner of United States Trademark Registration No. XX. The company uses this mark in the U.S. in conjunction with its goods. Her client legally owns the trademark that your retail store, online store, and products are infringing.
The other ACME believes that you are intentionally trading on its goodwill by using a mark that is confusingly similar and that your use is intended to confuse or mislead customers seeking their products. The attorney states that you are liable to ACME in every state in which you have made sales or done business. She also states that your activities are unlawful and constitute unfair competition, intentional trademark infringement and dilution, false designation or origin and/or cybersquatting.
At this point, you have limited options. You might be able to fight or settle in order to prevent your name from being taken away, however, it takes time and a lot of money. This is what happens when business owners neglect to take into account the intellectual property rights of others.
To avoid this scenario, the proper way you should proceed is to have a comprehensive trademark search performed on each and every name you intent to use in connection with your goods and services.
A copyright is a form of intellectual property protection that applies to original works of authorship such as books, songs, movies, photographs, paintings, and computer software. Copyright owners have six exclusive rights in relation to their copyrighted work. These include the right to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, distribute copies of the work, perform the work publicly (as applicable), display the work publicly (as applicable), and publicly perform the work by means of digital audio transmission (as applicable). Copyright does not cover ideas and information itself, only the form or manner in which they are expressed.
Copyrights are registered through the application process with the United States Copyright Office. You can recognize a copyright by the tiny "C" symbol located somewhere on the work of authorship. Copyright protection begins the moment the work is "fixed in a tangible medium", which means it was written, recorded, videotaped, etc. Copyright registration with the United States Copyright Office offers additional protections beyond the rights the author has by simply creating the work.
For more information about copyrights or to discuss registration of your works of authorship, contact us.
A patent is a form of intellectual property protection that applies to inventions. Ownership of a patent registration provides the inventor the right to exclude anyone else from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention. The inventor also has the right to exclude others from importing the invention into the United States for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted. Patents are registered through the application process with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
For more information about patents or to discuss registration of your inventions, contact us.