Basic Trademark Information

This post and the video above are designed to look at some of the basic information surrounding a federal trademark. Including what a trademark protects, why you should obtain a federal trademark, a comparison of a trademark to a patent or copyright, and how our trademark attorneys can help you in the process of obtaining a federal trademark.

Some of the initial questions our clients ask us is, “what is a trademark and how is it different from a patent and a copyright?” While these forms of intellectual property rights can be similar in some aspects, they all protect a very distinct and different property right. A trademark protects a business name, company slogan or tagline, symbol, logo, design, and more. Protection arises as long as the trademark is used in commerce to distinguish products or services from one source, from the products or services from another source. Patents are technical and scientific in nature. They protect new inventions, like new products or a new process/way of producing something. Copyrights are used to protect artistic works, typically in the form of books, movies, music and paintings.

To use an example that showcases how each of these forms of intellectual property can work alongside of each other, imagine you just invented a new television. You would want to obtain a patent to protect the new television itself. Then, you would want to obtain a federal trademark registration to protect the brand name of your television. Lastly, you would want a copyright registration for the commercial or other advertising you would plan to use to sell your television.

The next question our clients ask is, “why would I want a federal trademark registration?” When you use a product or a service, you instantly expect a […]

Famous Jameis – Trademark Protection and Branding

“Famous Jameis” is betting on the future by cashing out on his nickname. Jameis Winston, potential No. 1 overall NFL draft pick, has filed to trademark “Famous Jameis.” This nickname was given to him during his time at Florida State, where he won the Heisman Trophy and only lost one game as a starter in 2013. Winston’s trademark attorney noted they have taken steps to protect Winston’s intellectual property rights. He also commented that this is a long-term investment they “hope to utilize down the line.”

His attorney filed the trademark application on February 5, 2015. Whether he will cash out on his investment will depend on his performance and future in the NFL. For instance, Johnny Manziel, winner of the Heisman Trophy in 2012, filed for 10 different trademarks, including his nickname, “Johnny Football,” but his less than impressive performance this past season has made his brand less desirable as a commodity.

The success of a brand largely depends on the public’s perception of it. The first stop on your way to the bank filing for trademark protection with the USPTO and look forward to the profitable future.

USPTO Cancels Six Trademarks of the Washington Redskins

For more than 20 years, there has been a movement to rid sports of nicknames and mascots that refer to Native Americans. Many teams have voluntarily changed their name, such as: Miami University RedHawks (formerly Redskins until 1996); Marquette University Golden Eagles (formerly Warriors until 1994); St. John’s University Red Storm (formerly Redmen until 1994); University of North Dakota (currently no team name, retired Fighting Sioux in 2012). Other teams have ceased from using any Native American images in their logos. These teams include: University of Illinois Fighting Illini (no longer uses the “Chief Illiniwek” mascot), Cleveland Indians (replaced “Chief Wahoo” logo with a block “C” on their hats), and the Golden State Warriors (eliminated native american imagery in their logos, opting for images that promote the State of California). Most recently, pressure is mounting on the NFL’s Washington Redskins to change their name by various members of the Native American community, several members of the US Senate, as well as the President.

On June 18, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), an independent administrative tribunal within the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), canceled six federal trademark registrations that were owned by the Redskins. The TTAB is responsible for hearing and deciding issues that arise in federal trademark registrations and applications. The TTAB does not handle trademark infringement cases, their sole power is to determine the registrability of a trademark, and a trademark that is disparaging to a group of people is not afforded federal trademark protection.

A two step test is used to determine whether a trademark is disparaging: (1) would the trademark be understood, in its context, as referring to an identifiable group of people, and (2) may that reference be perceived as disparaging to […]

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