Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Copyrights & Trademarks: How to Protect Your Music



I've written about the difference between copyrights and trademarks before. Yesterday's post focused on literary works, which could certainly have commonalities (e.g. lyrics) with today's subject. From the written word to the spoken - today we're talking about...


SOUND RECORDINGS

Over the years we've worked with all kinds of musicians running the gamut of genres - rock and roll, country, hip hop, and even a Frankie Valli tribute band. Just like those creating literary works folks creating anything with sound will likely need copyrights and trademarks.

MUSICIANS & BANDS

Copyright

"Sound recordings are defined in the law as 'works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work.' Common examples include recordings of music, drama, or lectures." 

So any format which is "fixed" (i.e. CDs, MP3s, record albums, etc.) AND emits sound should be filed for copyright.  The Copyright Office allows online filing and seeing as how it's only 35 bucks a pop it is more than worth it to file each and every sound recording you create.

Trademark

You'll want to research and trademark any element that you're using that represents you as a band or a musician. This means your personal name (e.g. Beyonce), your band name (e.g. Maroon 5), or your logo (e.g. Wu-Tang). 

You may also want to trademark the name/logo for the actual performances (e.g. this Radiohead filing) AS WELL AS the tangible recordings (e.g. this Radiohead filing). 

And if your merchandise is a big part of your musical identity, you might also want to consider filing for those various products. Check out this filing to see how The Grateful Dead filed their skeleton logo for use on magnets, stickers, paper & cloth posters, and clothing. Of course, filing for trademark protection for merchandise may be well down the road but it's good to keep those possibilities in mind. Plus, hey, it's thinking positive! 

RECORD LABELS, STUDIOS, or PRODUCERS

Copyright

This area is going to be a bit different for you. Usually labels will own the copyright on the sound recordings (or attain them through a recording agreement); however, scenarios differ so cementing your plan before signing an artist is probably the way to go. Check out this link for further information.

Trademark

This area is pretty clear cut for you folks. Since you're offering a service you'll want to make sure that your company name and/or logo is legally available before filing for a trademark. 

Have questions? Please leave a comment here or email me directly -- shannon at tmexpress.com


Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Copyrights & Trademarks: How to Protect Your Book


I've written about the difference between copyrights and trademarks before but I thought it a good idea to get into the nitty-gritty of specific works. Today's post is about...


LITERARY WORKS

We've had the pleasure of assisting many writers and publishers over the years (need help with both? Check out The 90 Day Author) and this is a group of folks that need both copyrights and trademarks. Let's break it down, shall we?

WRITERS


First, congratulations! Whether you've completed a novel, a reference book, a cookbook, a children's book, or any major text, please take a moment to pat yourself on the back. That's quite an accomplishment and should be savored!

Now that you've got the creative-y stuff settled it's time to get to business, namely, the business of protecting your work. Simply put, copyright your printed works and trademark any element that you'll be using in commerce. 

Copyright

Literary works include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, textbooks, catalogs, and more. Check out the full list here. The Copyright Office allows online filing and seeing as how it's only 35 bucks a pop it is more than worth it to file each and every literary work you create. This is applicable even if you haven't published your piece yet. 

Trademark

What about Book Titles? 


This is an area worth exploring a bit. Titles of a single creative work are not protected by trademark law. Let's delve into this a bit further. 

Single creative works consist of materials where the content does not change, such as a book, a DVD, downloadable songs and a film. Single creative works do not include periodically issued publications, such as magazines, newsletters, brochures, comic books, comic strips or printed classroom materials, because the content of these works change with each issue. 

However, trademark registration may be possible if the title is used on a series of creative works or is used in other arenas. 

When it comes to titles for a book series, the rationale is the same: while the title stays the same, the content changes. Take a look at the filing for Ring of Fates, part of The Final Fantasy catalog: "a series of books featuring fictional stories and/or fantasy stories." 


When it comes to trademarks for literary works it is not possible to protect the work itself but it could be possible to protect the various representations of the work. I'll explain:

- If your literary work is a part of a series (e.g. Harry Potter) then you should have comprehensive research conducted prior to filing for a trademark.

- If you have a set of characters or designs or even the book title that will be used on goods such as clothing, toys, posters, etc. (e.g. Dr. Seuss) then, again, you'll need comprehensive research conducted prior to filing for a trademark.

- If you're not sure if a trademark applies to your situation, please leave a comment here or email me - shannon at tmexpress.com

PUBLISHERS



Copyright

This area is going to be a bit different for you. Some publishing companies own the copyright to the literary works though, more often than not, publishers typically are licensees. Where your company falls in this spectrum is going to depend on your author agreements. For further guidance, check out this booklet from the World Intellectual Property Organization. 

Trademark

This area is pretty clear cut for you folks. Since you're offering a service you'll want to make sure that your company name and/or logo is legally available before filing for a trademark. 

Have more questions? Please leave a comment here or email me directly -- shannon at tmexpress.com

Monday, November 04, 2013

Current TradeMark Express Special - Save $100 off your next trademark order!


Order by tomorrow, Tuesday, November 5th and take $100 off your next trademark order!



TradeMark Express is currently running a post-shutdown special. If you've been holding off on getting started on your research and application filing perhaps taking a hundred bucks off of our Premium Package will entice you!


You may call us to order -OR- just order online
If ordering online, please be sure to reference this special in order to ensure you get the $100 off.


Not sure if you need a trademark? 

Anyone that's started a small business or is in the throes of starting a small business knows how overwhelming it can be just to get to opening day. You've got licenses & permits to think about, what sort of business entity structure is right, where the money is going to come from, and on and on. Phew! While it can almost be too overwhelming, your entrepreneurial drive and your passion for your business will get you through it. 

Now when it comes to your business name, we can all agree that that's an important, if not the most important feature of your business. Your 
small business name is the face, if you will, of your products and/or services. It's how your customers will come to know you, how they'll get back to you, and how they'll refer you to new customers. 

So your first step after you've decided on your small business name is to research it to ensure that no one else had the same bright idea before you did. Ta-da! A comprehensive trademark search is the next step and what better time to order than when you can save some dough!

Order by tomorrow, Tuesday, November 5th and take $100 off your next trademark order!



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Government Shutdown and Your Trademarks

         
          

         Since several clients have asked how the government shutdown may affect their trademarks, we here at TradeMark Express decided it’d be a good idea to provide all of our clients an update.

          First, good news! The USPTO “will remain open...[and will] operate as usual for approximately four weeks.” This means that all “11,789 employees will be excepted” until approximately starting the week of October 28th. This means that all of your trademark needs will be met from filing a new application to submitting renewal forms.

          However, should the reserve funds be exhausted before then the USPTO will shut down. If a shut down happens, regardless of when it occurs, “a very small staff would continue to work to accept new applications and maintain IT infrastructure.” But what does this mean for you?

          NEW APPLICATIONS

            Even if the USPTO shuts down, new applications will be accepted. Given that it takes about 3-4 months to be assigned to an examining attorney there will be no noticeable delays for new applications as it’s not expected (or hoped!) that the government will be shut down for months. So, more good news! There is no need to delay your needed comprehensive research or application preparation!

          PENDING APPLICATIONS

          In regard to already filed applications including those with pending Office Actions or those needing renewal forms, the USPTO will essentially function on a holiday schedule. This means that “any action or fee that is due on a date falling on...a Federal holiday...is considered timely if the action is received, or the fee paid, on the following day that is NOT...a Federal holiday.” Let’s say the USPTO shuts down and your Office Action is due the very next day. No need to worry! It won’t actually be due until the USPTO is open.

CAVEAT – While these are the provisions in place as of now, the USPTO representative I spoke to warned that nothing is “positive yet” and the office is in “wait and see” mode as the USPTO has never closed down before. Should anything change from what’s outlined above, TradeMark Express will send out another notice.
         



         



TO SUM IT UP...


If you’re thinking about filing a new application or have a pending application that needs attention then don’t delay and contact TradeMark Express today

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Trademark Information Network


Awhile back the USPTO launched a media component to their trademark page, namely, the Trademark Information Network. From this page you can watch a number of different videos that discuss the basics of trademarks and all the way up to post-registration issues.

Have you watched any? What did you think?

I'll devote some posts to watching these videos & provide a critique/reaction to each one.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Election Trademarks 2012

As discussed before any time there's an event that stirs the nation trademark applications follow. Nowhere is this more obvious than during an election season.

Not surprisingly, most of the presidential-themed filings revolve around Obama. And even less surprisingly, the USPTO is refusing registration. It is assumed that most of these applicants are in no way affiliated with the famous men mentioned so they will all likely receive the following message:


Let's take a look at a few...
On January 21, The Gervasio Group filed for It's Rmoney! Vote Romney! for 4 different classes. Since the applicant filed a TEAS PLUS form that means this filing cost $1100. Eesh, ouch. I'm not finding much about this company other than their Nevada filing so who knows? Maybe they are affiliated with Romney but I'm placing my bets on that they'll be getting an Office Action refusal.

A few days later, Daniel Sladek filed for No Newt is Good Newt for 2 different classes. First, I'm loving the connection to Gary Gnu that's implied in this mark. Second, I'm afraid Mr. Sladek is also going to receive a "false connection" refusal.

Two applicants (out of many!) that are familiar with that dreaded response from the USPTO are You Can Say What You Want About Obama, But He Got Osama and Ron Paul Speaks the Truth.

So I think the overall lesson here is that if you are not somehow DIRECTLY affiliated (i.e. you have permission) with a famous person, please think twice (and thrice and again) before filing for a trademark.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Fun Day!

Rather than devote every post to some legal-y aspect of trademarks, I thought it'd be fun to devote Fridays to the lighter side of the trademark world. So...

Welcome to Friday Fun Day!

Today's post is dedicated to that fun-loving bunch - Hipsters!

Okay, so they've been skewered to death, yes, but still hipsters are everywhere (I live in Portland OR, trust me). So let's embrace this subculture & see what it looks like when hipsters and trademarks collide.

Easily, my favorite hipster-related trademark has gotta be Dads are the Original Hipsters. Check out the blog here though be forewarned - you'll easily get lost in the images of flannel-wearing, beard-having, bike-riding dads and the funny, funny commentary.

Here's a fellow who has fully embraced the moniker - Harry the Hipster! Naturally his blog focuses on music and the logo he's thinking about going with is...what else, a mustache! Kudos to you Harry for flinging yourself in wholeheartedly!

What are your favorite hipster-related brands, blogs, funny places?