Thursday, March 29, 2007

Intellectual Property News Headlines

Since there are no pending questions in my inbox, let's take a look at IP news:

Trademarks :

Choose Your Own Adventure® Owners Sue DaimlerChrysler and BBDO for Trademark Infringement
Clothing company wins trademark case over "I Love NC"
Publisher claims trademark for name 'Whitefish'

Copyrights :

1984 copyright owner mulls legal action
Novelist Dan Brown wins 'The Da Vinci Code' copyright infringement case in London
First-Ever Iraqi Copyright Law Drafted

Patents :

New H-P vs. Acer patent suit could fuel up 'rocket docket'
Apple files for Magsafe patent
BlackBerry patent would convert e-mailed appointment references to calendar entries

Remember, Thursdays are YOUR days so if you have a question, comment or email me: Shannon at tmexpress dot com. I'm more than happy to post your web site and/or contact information, so it's also free advertising for you.

TradeMark Express Blog Schedule

Trademark Information

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

We just passed the 100 mark for posts!

Many thanks to all of our loyal readers! And remember, if you have a question, comment or email me at shannon at tmexpress dot com -- do so & you get your very own post dedicated to your question. Also, I'm more than happy to post your links and/or contact information.

Happy 100 TradeMark Express Blog!

Business Plans: A Quick Guide

Scenario: You've decided to start a small business. You've researched your industry, your customers and your business' message/personality. There seems to be so many 'first steps' when it comes to starting a business but one that's always way, way up there is creating a business plan.

Research, research, research – this cannot be stressed enough. Read as much as you can. Here are some book titles that are relevant:

Writing a Convincing Business Plan by Arthur R. DeThomas Ph.D., Lin Grensing-Pophal
The Definitive Business Plan: The Fast Track to Intelligent Business Planning for Executives and Entrepreneurs (2nd Edition) by Richard Stutely

The Complete Book of Business Plans: Simple Steps to Writing a Powerful Business Plan (Small Business Sourcebooks) by Joseph A. Covello
The One Page Business Plan with CD-ROM by James T., Jr. Horan

There are plenty of free informational resources out there.

* Five Crucial Components of a Business Plan by Cavyl Stewart

* Sample Business Plan Outline by Lance Winslow

* 8 Business Plan Mistakes to Avoid by Jo Ann Joy

* How to Prepare a Business Plan that Guarantees Big Profits by Julia Tang

* Writing a Business Plan and Check List by Thomas Choo

TradeMark Express Blog Schedule

A VIS (Very Important Step) for your New Business

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Copyright Visual Art Works

Last week, we explored the online works section of the Literary Works registration.

Next up is the
Visual Art Works registration, which is actually quite cut and dry.

Here are some examples given by the US Copyright Office:

" ● Advertisements, commercial prints, labels

● Artificial flowers and plants

● Artwork applied to clothing or to other useful articles

● Patterns for sewing, knitting, crochet, needlework

● Photographs, photomontages
● Posters
● Record jacket artwork or photography"

this site for specifics about crafts and visual art information.

TradeMark Express Blog Schedule

You Sure It's a Copyright You Need?

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How to Choose a Business Name:
Part Three – Know Your Message/Personality

Welcome to part 3 of a 4 part series about
how to choose a business name.

Here's the schedule:

3/12: Know Your Industry
3/19: Know Your Customers
• 3/26: Know Your Message/Personality

• 4/2: Know if the Name is Available

While the concept of The Message and The Personality of a business are slightly different, there are enough commonalities to discuss them in one post.

Remember the good old days in school when you'd use a definition to start a paper? Well, the tried and true is that for a good reason.

Message: "
a communication containing some information, news, advice, request, or the like, sent by messenger, radio, telephone, or other means"

something apprehended as reflective of or analogous to a distinctive human personality, as the atmosphere of a place or thing"

So, in creating a business name, you need to know the personality of your business as well as the message you want to send to your customers. Understanding these two facets of your business will aid you in your selection of a name.

How do I know what my message or personality is?

While there are going to be several aspects of your business that could be described as The Message or The Personality, there is likely one type of each that is going to stand out. Let's look at some examples to illustrate this:

Product: Clothing line - Will the line be sporty? Sophisticated? Funky? The type of clothing you intend to sell will determine the message & personality. If, for instance, your line is a modernization of vintage wear, then a name like High Tech Clothing might not fit The Message just as Dowdy Duds is not likely to fit The Personality.

Service: Delivery services - What are you delivering? Who are you delivering it to? Regardless of the types of goods that are being delivered, names like Super Slow Shipments is not The Message you want to communicate.

Brainstorm about The Message and The Personality of your business. Write the first adjectives that come to mind when you think about what it is you want to convey to your customers. Having this list will aid you in your selection of a business name.

TradeMark Express Blog Schedule

The Importance of Creative Naming
Trademark Information

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

How to Know When to Trademark Your Logo

I got a really great question from a reader in response to my first call for questions:

"I have a product that I want to market and have a name. I do not yet have a mark for this product but want to protect the name. Do I file intent to use and can I do that without having the actual mark?"

There's two distinct questions here – (1) the use of Intent-to-Use & (2) adding a logo after the fact.

(1) Intent-to-Use Trademark Applications: I will definitely dedicate a more detailed post to these two types of applications but to sum it up…

A mark, be it a name, logo or slogan, must be in use in at least 2 states OR between the US & any foreign country in order to obtain Federal trademark registration. However, an applicant can file the mark even if they're only doing business in one state OR not in business at all.

There is a hiccup in filing an Intent-to-Use application in that the USPTO is going to need to know that the mark is being sold across state lines or in another country. This requires another form, a $100 and a specimen.

(2) Adding a Logo to Your Trademark Application:

The USPTO is vague & clear about this matter in a way that really only the Federal government could be:

"The examining attorney will determine whether any proposed amendment of the mark is acceptable. A change is not acceptable if it materially alters the character of the mark. The modified mark must contain what is the essence of the original mark, and the new form must create the impression of being essentially the same mark."

Eh, what? Okay, so basically, if you intend to add anything at all to your trademark application AFTER it's been filed, it has to be something very, very slight. For instance, you may be able to delete generic or descriptive words from your filing.

But, of course, the USPTO has a caveat about that too: "For example, the deletion of the generic name of the goods or services would not generally constitute a material alteration, unless it was so integrated into the mark that the deletion would alter the commercial impression."

So, in a long winded way, it's probably not possible to add a logo to a pending application as the addition of the logo will more than likely "materially alter" the mark. But as with most trademark issues, it's recommended that you consult with a trademark company or attorney about your specifics.

TradeMark Express Blog Schedule

Trademark Application FAQ
What good is a logo anyhow?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Starting a Business: Must Visit Sites

Time is rather elusive today so I'm going to keep this short but sweet. Here is a listing of must visit sites if you're thinking of starting a business, if you're in the throes of starting a business or are going a little mad about starting a business.

SBA, Small Business Administration
Whether you're interested in
planning, starting, managing or even getting out of business, the SBA is the place to check.

Entrepreneur's ® Starting a Business
Business plans, how-to guides, and success stories – it's all here

"The one-stop resource for growing businesses"

The IRS Checklist for Starting a Business
The basic steps

Specific to "starting, managing and growing a home business"

TradeMark Express Blog Schedule

A VIS (Very Important Step) for your New Business

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Copyright Your Online Work

Last week I provided some general information about copyrights. Now, I'll delve a bit deeper into the areas of copyrightable materials, specifically the more atypical types of works that can be protected by copyright.

First on the list at the US Copyright Office web site is Literary Works.

Okay, so things like poetry, speeches, dissertations, etc. are easy enough to understand. The one type of literary work I get asked about is protecting online work. The US Copyright Office has a handy-dandy 8 page section about Copyright Registration for Online Works. How's about we break that down to some manageable parts.

The above circular describes online works as those that are "made available over a communications network such as the Internet…also applies also to works accessed via network (websites, homepages, and FTP sites) and files and documents transmitted and/or downloaded via network."

It's important to note that "the registration will extend only to the copyrightable content of the work as received in the Copyright Office and identified as the subject of the claim."

While this information is referenced within the Literary Works area of the site, there are other relevant registrations. Here's what the US Copyright Office lists:

• Form TX—literary material, including computer programs and databases
• Form VA—pictorial and graphic works, including cartographic material
• Form PA—audiovisual material, including any sounds, music, or lyrics (*See filing fee information on page 3.)
• Form SR—sound recording, excluding sounds accompanying an audiovisual work
• Form SE—a single issue of a serial
• Form SE/Group—a group of issues of a serial, including daily newsletters
• Form GR/CP—a group of contributions to a periodical. (This form must be used in conjunction with Form TX, PA, or VA.)

If this applies to you or your plans, take the time to read the Circular prior to filing a thing.

TradeMark Express Blog Schedule

You Sure It's a Copyright You Need?

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Monday, March 19, 2007

How to Choose a Business Name:
Part Two – Know Your Customers

Welcome to part 2 of a 4 part series about how to choose a business name.

Here's the schedule:

3/12: Know Your Industry
• Today: Know Your Customers

• 3/26: Know Your Message/Personality

• 4/2: Know if the Name is Available

In a perfect world, your customer would be John Q. Public & Susie Everywoman. Well, we know the world's not perfect. Every business, no matter how large or small, has their Customer or Customers.

Now I don't mean lower-case customers – all businesses have customers or clients (and hopefully lots & lots of them).

What I'm talking about is the upper-case Customer, i.e. the people who are at the focus of your marketing and sales campaigns. Once you know who they are, choosing a business name will be that much easier.

Finding Your Customer

A few key questions:

• What are you selling?
o Easy enough, right?

• Who needs this product? Who needs this service?

o Ah, okay, here's one that's a bit harder. Who are the types of folks out there in our commercial world that you know would benefit from your product or service? Small business owners? Single mothers? College students? And so on & so forth. Make a list of any & every type of customer you can think of that you know needs what you have to sell.

• How will your Customer find out about you?

o This will be answered within your marketing plans but should also be considered when choosing a business name. Where do you plan to advertise? Internet? Yellow pages? Fliers? And so on & so forth. Again, make a list of any & every type of advertising route you know you're going to explore.

One note about the above: If you're just starting out, your scope for the last 2 questions may be a bit small (or very large, if you're the ambitious type). Either way, it's best to be honest with yourself. Make two lists if need be – one for the immediate & one for the future. For example, if you're just starting out, you may want to rely simply on word of mouth and some fliers for advertising. But as your business grows, you know you'll add Internet advertising.

What Does My Customer Have to do with My Name?

Well, everything really. Your name is going to be the one and only thing that is going to identify your business in the marketplace. It's how Customers will come to know your business and its personality. The name is how Customers are going to find you when they want to buy from you again (and again and again). When your Customers refer you to their friends, the name's the golden ticket.

That being said, always keep your Customer in mind when choosing a business name. Here are some examples to illustrate this key point:

Product: do-it-yourself accounting software – the self employed are going to be a major Customer for this type of product. Those that are working for themselves aren't going to have a lot of time to research hundreds of different products. They need to know your product is reliable, easy and cost-efficient. Is there a component to your product that's going to be especially relevant to this type of Customer?

Service: bed and breakfast - the main Customers are tourists that want those 'extra touches' not available at motels or hotels but can be narrowed even further to honeymooners, retired couples or business travelers. What is the one thing, to you, that stands out about your bed and breakfast? What are those 'extra touches' that set you apart from hotel, motels and other B&Bs?

So you can see by the simple examples above by brainstorming about your Customer(s), a picture starts emerging. This should be a conjoined image of (1) what they want and (2) what you plan to offer to them.

TradeMark Express Blog Schedule

The Importance of Creative Naming
Trademark Information

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Get Your Piping Hot Questions Answered Here!

Every Thursday, I'll answer your questions and each question will have its very own post. For days that I don't have any questions to answer, I'll post some interesting news tidbits.
To get a question or questions to me, please comment on any post or email me at shannon at tmexpress dot com. If emailing, make sure your subject line references the blog in some way, e.g. Question for the Blog. That way I won't accidentally delete you ;)

Now on to the news...

Radio Talkers Denied 'Obamanation' Trademark
Viacom sues YouTube...
The Basics for Starting a Business

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Starting a Business:
Researching Your Industry

Using this post as inspiration, I want to dig a bit deeper into the concept of researching your intended industry.

Brad Sugars' article How to Research Your Market is a must read. Brad lists a number of ideas, including contacting business groups and universities.

One of the ideas I touched upon yesterday was researching your competition. But how does one even go about doing this? And how do you keep it all organized in such a way that you can actually analyze your results? I'm a big fan of tables – I use them constantly for
TradeMark Express, be it for client bids or summarizing the week. They're easy to create, manage & alter.

I've created a template that can be
viewed & printed here. I filled in the first table with TradeMark Express' information so you can get an idea of how to use this table. Here's a blank form. If you'd like me to send you this table via email, please contact me at Shannon at tmexpress dot com.

Find the holder of a domain address
Free digital library of Internet sites
Using the Web to Research Your Market – PowerHomeBiz

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What is a Copyright?

A copyright is a "form of protection" that's achieved by filing the appropriate application with the US Copyright Office.

Copyrights can be obtained for things of an artistic nature. This includes, of course, poetry, films, sculptures, music, fiction, etc. But can also include things that may not necessarily seem "artistic" in the general sense of the word. Copyrights can also be obtained for advertising copy, games, software programs and blueprints, to name just a few.

Despite what you may hear, a "poor man's" copyright is NOT the same as registering it. Here's what the US Copyright Office has
to say:

"The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a 'poor man’s copyright.' There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration."

Here are some books about copyrights:

The Copyright Handbook
How to Register Your Own Copyright

To learn more about copyrights, be sure to visit these sites:

NOLO's Copyright Resource Center
Copyright Registration Advantages

How to Choose a Business Name
A 4-Part Series

Eek, one day into the schedule and I'm already a day behind. 'It's good to be so busy,' is the mantra I've been repeating to myself.

At any rate, here's the first part of a 4 part series about how to choose a business name. There are, I feel, 4 key objectives to keep in mind when choosing a business name:

• Today: Know Your Industry
• 3/19: Know Your Customers
• 3/26: Know Your Message/Personality
• 4/2: Know if the Name is Available

How to Choose a Business Name:
Part One – Know Your Industry

Regardless of your industry or specialty, it's key to know your industry inside & out, at least as much as humanely possible. Customers come to you AND buy from you because they've decided that you're an expert in your field. It's up to you to ensure that you truly are.

Knowing your industry also allows you to make a more informed decision about the name or type of name you should be considering. Let's look at some examples to provide some insight:

• Industry: Clothing, specifically a name for a Clothing Line
o Are you selling sports apparel? Swim wear? Evening wear? The type of clothing you're creating and selling will determine the name. Let's say you have a sports apparel line…calling it Lucky Tux is only going to confuse customers.

• Industry: Web Design Services
o What are you offering? HTML? Flash? CSS? Animation? And what about hosting? Or search engine submission? The type of services is going to determine the

As you can see by the very simplistic examples above, the type of name is going to be largely determined by your plans for the business. If you've got a particular niche in your industry, keep that in mind. If you know you want to expand, keep that in mind.

Now, how do you get to know your industry? A few suggestions:

• Who's your competition?
o Look at your direct competitors, of course, but also pay attention to the big players in your industry.
o What do you like about their name? What do you not like?

• Associations
o Industry specific associations are a treasure trove of information & should be researched.
o Because of the work I do on Yahoo! Answers, I've got listings upon listings of associations for all types of industries. Let me know if you'd like further information on any industry's association.

• Books:
o There are books upon books for any number of subjects, whether it be about starting a business or information specific to your industry.
o Because of the work I do on Yahoo! Answers, I've got listings upon listings of books for all types of industries. Let me know if you'd like further information on any book titles.

The Importance of Creative Naming
Trademark Information

* * *

TradeMark Express: Blog Schedule

To ensure that posts are posted, I've drafted a schedule of sorts. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

Mondays: Trademark related information
Tuesdays: Copyright related information
Wednesdays: Starting a business related information
Thursdays: Questions and/or News
Fridays: FreeDays

In reference to Thursdays, I'd like to invite any & all to comment and/or email me any questions you may have. I'll then answer them in individual posts on Thursdays. Should there be no questions for the week, I'll post some news bits.

2 posts for today will be posted soon...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My Poor Little Blog

I know I've been more than neglectful of you but readers, please be rest assured, I am still here. The plus side of my absence is that work has been busy, busy, busy. It's great to talk to so many folks that are taking the plunge and starting their own businesses.

All the craziness of work aside, I will be back on track with this blog starting this weekend. I'm making a public declaration (oh my goodness!) that I will have scheduled, hopefully interesting and always engaging posts published on a very regular basis.

I'll be back on Monday, March 12th! Thanks for your patience!