Searches, Applications & Protection
Businesses may possess trademarks in a large variety of “marks” – understood quite broadly, as including not only words and symbols but even “devices.” Business logos and slogans are common examples, but businesses have even been permitted to trademark scents, sounds, and shapes.
Trademarks are an important way to build value in a business, as they are capable of much greater and frequent increases in value than tangible business assets. They can also usually be made rather cheaply, which makes them particularly important to startups and small businesses.
The essential feature for protection of a particular word, symbol or device is that the mark is used to perform an identifying function in lawful commerce.FN1 In fact, nothing need be done in order to create some rights in a trademark except to actually use the mark in lawful commerce.
However, registering the mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Colorado Secretary of State creates additional protection and the possibility of enhanced remedies in the case of infringement.
That said, not every identifying mark used in commerce will be able to qualify for registration and protection as a trademark. Furthermore, even where a mark does qualify for registration, the strength of protection granted to the mark may vary. At this point, the factors and how they are to be weighed and traded off becomes complicated rather quickly.
Business owners who are seeking to establish a particular mark to market or brand their business should seek competent counsel early on in order to create a registrable mark that will be afforded the strongest possible protection (given the set of already existing related marks and the particular needs of the business).
The Pote Law Firm assists clients with various phases of the registration process, from trademark searches to applications and any follow-up communications needed to finalize the process. Reach out, Today!
Many entrepreneurs and other individuals also author or produce creative works, in either connection to business activities or independently. In doing so, they have created not only the work itself, but also exclusive rights over the use of that work – i.e. copyrights.
Although these rights arise naturally, registering a copyright can still provide added protection, including the ability to elect statutory damages – which are generally considerably larger than any actual damage caused by infringement.
Copyrights may be possessed either by the creator of the work, or a business or employer if produced in the context of business (and depending on the terms of applicable contracts). Furthermore, the same work may be owned by multiple parties, who may all have either the same or diverse assortments of rights with respect to the work.
Given that copyrights may be “broken up” and assigned to various individuals, holders of copyrights often need assistance with licensing and other agreements related to the transfer of rights or the use of works.
Whether images, software or other works of authorship, it is in the interest of the licensor as well as the licensee to carefully specify the nature of the permitted use.
The Pote Law Firm works with entrepreneurs and small business owners to help them properly consider these issues and to assist in the registration of copyrights and trademarks. If you need any such assistance, please Reach out, Today!
FN1: The commerce must be lawful at both the state and federal level in order to qualify for trademark protection. This can create complications for certain businesses whose activities are currently lawful at the state level, but federally prohibited.