Monday, December 08, 2014

Beware of Official-y Correspondence



Once you get that trademark filed be aware that your information is of public record, which means, unfortunately, some will mine that resource & some of those folks will send you solicitations. 

These solicitations often look very official, and "may use names that resemble the USPTO name, including, for example, one or more of the terms "United States," “U.S.,” "Trademark," "Patent," "Registration," "Office," or "Agency."  

Some will even have documents that resemble actual government documents rather than what you'd expect a company to send and this is often done by "emphasizing official government data like the USPTO application serial number, the registration number, the International Class(es), filing dates, and other information that is publicly available from USPTO records."

Most of these are asking you for money. That's your major warning flag.

"All official correspondence will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, VA, and if by e-mail, specifically from the domain “@uspto.gov.”

If you did receive something that you're not too sure about go ahead and forward it to me - shannon at tmexpress dot com - and I can confirm if it's official or not.

Read more about what the USPTO has to say about this here.


Thursday, December 04, 2014

IP Webinar Series: December 9-11th





"The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will co-host a free webinar series to help business owners understand the intellectual property process, starting on Tuesday, December 9.

Register today!


This three-part webinar series will provide participants with insightful tips for success on getting a patent or registering a trademark or copyright."
The trademark webinar takes place on December 11th, 1pm-2pm EST. Register here.
I'll be there so "see" you on-line!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Hello Again!


It's been awhile but we are back! And as Mr. Waving Turtle up there indicates it has taken me a bit to get back here to the old blog watering hole (or wherever turtles congregate so I may continue the metaphor) but I'm here and ready to go so let's talk trademarks!

If you've got a topic you'd like addressed please comment and I'll be sure to tackle it in a future post. 

For today, I'll assemble a greatest hits list. This will provide a good overview of trademarks as a whole. You can also search the blog if you're looking for something more specific. And if nothing pops up then leave me a hey I wanna hear about this note in the comment section.

Trademarks - A Quick Introduction

- Aww, my 3rd post ever. It's an oldie but goodie. Plenty of basic info here.

What is a Trademark?

- What it is.

What is NOT a Trademark?

- What it isn't.

What's the deal with the © ® ™ symbols?

- While my Seinfeld-ian homage may have fallen flat the info in the post is gold, Jerry! Gold!

Is it Possible to Search my Trademark for Free?

- Spoiler Alert! It ain't but finding out why is handy to know.

What is a Trademark Search?

- aka what does it mean when a search is comprehensive?

Do You Need a Registered Trademark?

- Maybe. Maybe not. Read on to find out.

How to Know When to Trademark your Logo

- Got a cool logo? You may want to think about protecting it.

Trademark a Name and Logo: Together or Separate?

- The filing costs shouldn't be your only consideration here.

Brainstorming Tips for Creating a Business Name

- You've got the business but don't know what the heck to call it. Check out this post for some tips.

Starting a Business Series

- For many, many posts I wrote up on starting business in all kinds of different industries and included general business start-up knowledge to more specifics, such as associations, books, and articles. 

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