When developing an advertising campaign for a new product, marketing professionals must consider many important steps. Beyond the creative design aspects, it is important to be aware of how intellectual property issues in advertising affect the viability of the brand well into the future. No one wants to face a situation where you have designed a logo, crafted a slogan, and prepared a fully integrated marketing plan only to learn that a proposed brand mark is a trademark already owned by someone else.
You know how valuable a recognizable logo, name, or brand can be when promoting a consumer item. A familiar phrase or insignia can lead a customer to buy something simply because they are loyal to the business, and they have confidence when purchasing products from a trusted brand over many years. Knowing how important unique branding can be for your clients, you also appreciate how important it is to expand that brand’s legal protection.
Depending on the product or service, intellectual property in advertising may include trademarks, copyrights, patents, or service marks. A copyright protects a creative process or work such as a novel, song, or poem while a patent protects an invention or an original system like a medical device or a new mechanical process. The only way to legally establish and protect a marketing brand is with a registered advertising trademark.
One of the primary goals of advertising is creating market awareness of a certain product. Consumers are initially drawn to catchy slogans, unusual names or logos, and phrases that entice them to try a new product. Once they have sampled the product, customers are likely to buy again because of consistency and loyalty. An advertising trademark is vital for protecting a winning brand and legally differentiating that product from similar items in the same industry.
In the marketing industry, a well-crafted brand or mark can:
With more consumers turning to the internet to shop, brand names are extremely important. Online searchers will enter the brand name into search engines and social media platforms to find the products they know and trust. This creates a cycle for the company’s online presence with increased traffic to web pages that leads to improved search rankings that lead to more customers finding the product, more brand recognition, and eventually increased sales.
Before you pitch your amazing branding ideas to your marketing client, you need to be certain the brand mark you designed is unique and will not infringe on another company’s trademark or other intellectual property rights. We know you don’t want to waste time and money creating a stellar advertising campaign only to learn you can’t use the branding design and be forced to start over.
A thorough trademark search will disclose if your mark, or something substantially similar to it, is already being used. Once you confirm your branding ideas are unique and they are approved by your client, the mark or slogan should be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as soon as possible to protect the mark and keep others from using it in the future.
Another advertising trademark benefit is the value of the trademark itself. When a brand becomes more recognized and trusted in the marketplace, two things may happen. First, your client’s business could expand into other related industries with pre-existing loyal consumer support. For example, a clothing brand could branch out into handbags and accessories or even fragrances—Calvin Klein may have started with jeans, but they now offer more than 170 fragrances. Expansion can also lead to more branding opportunities and eventually more sales.
Second, a larger corporation may want to acquire the brand mark and might offer a substantial amount of money for the legal trademark rights—the Calvin Klein brand is now part of the Coty family of products.
The cost and effort that goes into registering a marketing trademark are well worth the business protection and peace of mind you’ll receive. Also, registered trademarks will not expire as long as they are being used in commerce and required maintenance fees are paid on schedule.
Our team of skilled trademark attorneys has successfully registered more than 5,500 trademarks for clients in many different business industries. Through registered trademarks, we can help you create and protect your valuable assets. We will perform the necessary due diligence before you pitch your marketing ideas or attempt to register a trademark including a comprehensive trademark search to ensure the mark is available and will not infringe on another registered mark.
We will also prepare and submit the necessary USPTO application and respond to any office actions on your behalf. We can also defend your client’s mark from trademark infringement through cease-and-desist actions or civil lawsuits as required to protect and enforce your intellectual property in advertising rights.
We are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but we help resolve intellectual property issues in advertising for marketing clients nationwide. To learn about our high-quality and cost-effective legal services, contact us at 888-503-5210 or complete this simple form to schedule a complimentary consultation today.
Suspensions are when your application is on hold. There are various reasons a trademark application can be suspended. However “likelihood of confusion” with prior application(s) filed and submission of foreign application are the most common reasons the USPTO may suspend an application. During a trademark suspension period, your lawyer will provide guidance on the next steps and whether it might be best to file an argument or pursue a coexistence agreement.
A disclaimer usually refers to a statement which indicates that you are not claiming exclusive rights to use the word(s) or a design element in your trademark application. A disclaimer allows for registration without creating a false impression of the registrant’s rights.
A good example of this is disclaiming “café” if your services are for a café.
If a trademark is not eligible for the Principal Registry, there is sometimes an option to register on the Supplemental Registry.
In cases where the USPTO finds the trademark application is merely ornamental, merely descriptive, or primarily geographically descriptive, the USPTO may allow the application to be registered on the Supplemental Registry. However, over time, the mark may acquire distinctiveness and possibly become eligible for the Principal Registry.
Two dates must be specified in a trademark application:
Date of First Use Anywhere: The “anywhere” refers to use in the U.S. or elsewhere. This is the date the goods were first sold or transported, or the services were first rendered under the mark. The use must also have been bona fide and in the ordinary course of trade.
Date of First Use in Commerce: This is the date when the goods were first sold or transported, or the services were first rendered under the mark in interstate or international commerce. The use of the mark must have been bona fide and in the ordinary course of trade.
The renewal timeframe for a trademark is between the 9th and 10th year anniversary of the trademark registration, and then in ten-year intervals. It is important to be aware that the USPTO also requires a registrant to provide an affidavit at the 5th and 6th years of ownership stating that the trademark is still being used in commerce. Failure to comply with the renewal timeframes or the affidavit requirements will result in the cancellation of the trademark registration.