Trademarks, especially in this dynamic digital age, are becoming increasingly important to protect. A trademark is defined as anything that identifies a company’s services or goods and can be a logo, name or slogan. Such a mark identifies and distinguishes a company’s products from its rivals. In the entertainment industry, this can be as diverse as the name of a rock band, through to record companies, film studios, and individual artists.
Sadly, there will always be individuals who attempt to take advantage of others’ success, and trademark misuse is damaging to both the brand itself and consumer confidence.
Protecting your intellectual property
The key to catching violations and stopping them before any damage is caused boils down to a combination of working with the correct legal entity and a healthy dose of common sense. In fact, the biggest takeaway here is that anyone within the industry using a brand, name, or logo needs to ensure it’s protected from the word go. The thing is, your trademark might inadvertently be very similar to one that you’re not aware of. But the first person to have used a trademark has superior rights over any subsequent use of one that might be similar.
The following therefore needs to be considered and applied, preferably well before too much time and effort has been directed into launching any new trademark:
Carry out a trademark search
At the very least this should entail a Google and other search engine investigation into whether or not someone else has already got their sticky fingers on what you thought was a highly original idea. However, if budget allows, a full nationwide search, perhaps through a specialized company, is more thorough. Be aware that even if someone has not filed or procured a Federal Trademark Registration, if it’s proven that they used the trademark prior to you then they have the aforementioned superior rights.
Don’t use weak trademarks
Trademarks fall into four categories:
The most protectable is the first, arbitrary, and includes words that’ve been invented specifically to enter that category, such as Nike and Exxon. Other examples include names of bands; Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, etc. Ideally, a trademark should fall into this category, as it’s the most legally enforceable of all of them.
File your application for a Federal Trademark Application
Although not strictly necessary, this will provide a legal presumption that you’re the first to use the name or logo and afford easier commencement of legal action should this become necessary in the future.
Use the trademark registration symbol in all communications
Although this isn’t legally necessary, using the ™ symbol will ensure that should you need to set a civil lawsuit in place against someone trying to steal your trademark then you won’t have accidentally waived any legal liabilities under US law.
The best course of action is to work with a specialist entertainment law firm from the outset. Such an experienced approach to what is potentially a complicated and time-consuming subject will not only save time and money from the outset but will prevent other possible infringements further down the line. The world is a big place, and others may well have had the same idea as you when it comes to that perfect logo, name, or slogan.
Chase Lawyers are experts in all aspects of entertainment law and can assist in such a process from the beginning, or work with you should you be unfortunate enough to have discovered an infringement. With offices in Orlando, Miami, and New York, they can effectively service the whole of the US, working remotely with clients nationwide and effectively negating the very real issue that many have of not having a trademark lawyer near where they live.