Identity theft often happens in the business world. It occurs when someone makes a shoddy knockoff of your product and tries to pass their goods off as if they were yours.
Traditionally, one of the only ways to protect your company’s name, slogan, or logo has been to get a trademark for each of them.
In the old days consumers knew that they were getting the real product when they saw a trademark. However, technology has made it relatively easy to knock off trademarks as well as security devices such as holograms.
Some companies and individuals are fighting back. One of them is Lady Gaga.
If you’ve ever been to a concert then you’ve probably seen a lot of people walking around the parking lots with t-shirts slung over their shoulders. The t-shirts feature the performer and the vendors often try to hawk them for five to ten dollars each. Most, if not all of the goods are counterfeit.
Lady Gaga’s merchandising company, The Bravado International Group Merchandising Services, Inc., has filed a John Doe trademark infringement suit that empowers U.S. Marshalls to seize any of the counterfeit merchandise, whenever they come across it.
Now, if you’re thinking of doing something similar to what Lady Gaga is doing, you will first need to have your own enforceable trademark. And, once you do that you will have a sort of monopoly that is legally enforceable.
If you haven’t yet trademarked your business name, slogan, or logo, you can either discuss it with a local trademark attorney or you can find the information you need online.
There are a number of basic steps you must follow to trademark anything.
The Basic Steps to Trademark a Business Name, Slogan, or Logo
Initially you need to be familiar with the basic guidelines. You can find them at the USPTO website.
Next you will have to find out if there are any existing trademarks that could conflict with the one(s) you would like to register. You can also find that information on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. You’ll need to use the TESS system to conduct your search.
Once that’s accomplished you will have to describe your service or product in writing. Your description must be specific enough to differentiate it from anything else.
Then you’ll need to file a representation of your mark. When you submit your slogan you should submit it in standard character format. This means that you aren’t trying to claim a specific style, font, color, or design. In other words, you are only submitting the words of the slogan.
After filing your application you will have to pay a fee. It’s usually between $275 and $375.
Your serial number will be your receipt.
Then, after about five or six months, you will get a response. If you’ve made any mistakes or left anything out you will pretty much have to go through the process once again.