Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Importance of Due Diligence

Two of the biggest pitfalls a business owner can make when planning on filing a trademark application with the Patent & Trademark Office is failing to perform a detailed trademark search beforehand and failing to understand the basic rules of trademark law. This is a little something we lawyers like to refer to as a lack of due diligence. Typically what happens is a business owner, who most likely and understandably is trying to save a few bucks, sets their heart (and more importantly their pocketbook) on building their brand around a name and/or logo that may not necessarily be available to them or without understanding what makes a good and clear trademark. What these passionate entrepreneurs fail to understand is the 'likelihood of confusion' their potential mark might cause when compared to existing marks already established in the marketplace. Take Tami Cromar for instance. She is a small business owner of a cookie shop based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. She is currently at odds with Pillsbury Corporation, a subsidiary of General Mills, because of what she chose to name her shop: My Dough Girl. According to the Pillsbury Corporation, the name of Cromar's business is confusingly similar to Pillsbury Corporation's Dough Boy®trademark. Rather than fight the industry giant, Cromar has decided to concede to General Mills' claim of infringement and has begun working on a new name for her business. Ultimately when it comes to filing a new trademark application, we recommend to our clients that they think about the money they can save in the long run by doing their due diligence ahead of time. Here is a link to the article that details the Pillsbury vs. My Dough Girl case.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Copyrights: For Songwriters - Registering Copyrights vs. Registering with ASCAP/BMI/SESAC

One of the questions we frequently receive is whether it is necessary for a songwriter to register his/her songs with both ASCAP (or BMI or SESAC) and the Copyright Office. One of the main things about the U.S. Copyright Office application/registration is that in the U.S. you need either a pending copyright application on file or an actual issued copyright registration certificate IF you have to sue someone for copyright infringement - depending on which legal jurisdiction you have to file your lawsuit in. our experience it is better to file a copyright application sooner rather than later and it is not a question of either filing with ASCAP/BMI/SESAC or the Copyright Office; it is a matter of needing to do both.