We design logos…we don’t do the trademark or copyright, but we wanted to provide you with some information on what does intellectual property mean and what steps do you need to take to protect your logo and brand.
I met Sharra last year at a WIN event, Women In Networking, where she was the guest speaker. She provided a lot of knowledge to questions I have always had. Her guest posts will be the next few weeks – so be sure to check back if you find this information valuable for your company.
Protecting Brands and Websites
by Sharra S. Brockman, Esq
Now that you understand generally what type of intellectual property protection might be appropriate for your business, let’s discuss in more depth how to protect two common business elements.
Brand Names & Logos
Brand names and logos act as source-identifiers, so a trademark is the best way to protect them. Even before you’ve filed a federal trademark application, though, you may hold limited common law trademark rights in your brand simply because you’ve used it on a product or in connection with services.
Use is the most basic qualification for trademark protection, because a mark can only confuse consumers if it’s being used publicly. If you are the first user of an unregistered trademark, your common law rights will allow you to continue using the mark within a limited geographical area even if a later user obtains a federal registration on the same mark.
If you are using your brand name or logo in interstate commerce, however, a federal registration will provide significant benefits, one of which is putting other potential users on notice of your prior use.
The original content on a website can be protectable under copyright law. My previous post discussed how formalities are not required to obtain a copyright: there are no notice requirements and no applications necessary. Copyright protection attaches immediately when an original work is fixed in a tangible format. Note, though, that the law doesn’t protect ideas, but merely the way that ideas are expressed.
Although registration isn’t required, a work that has been registered is given broader protection under copyright law. For example, only the owner of a registered copyright may bring a lawsuit for infringement. Registration of a website, however, presents some unique issues, since your registration will cover the content on your site as it exists in the deposit copy you provide with your application. Most websites, though, are constantly updated with new content. If you want to be sure your website is fully protected, be prepared to file new copyright applications on a regular basis to cover the changing content.
Intellectual property is a vital part of every business. Not only can it increase goodwill through customer recognition and loyalty, but it can also increase the value of the business itself. Make sure you’re taking the proper steps to protect what you’ve built, and talk to an intellectual property attorney for assistance.