Trademark 101 - What Creatives Need to Know About Trademarks
If you’re starting a business, you should consider types of intellectual property protection for your brand and products. Consider whether you may need a trademark, copyright, or patent. Each of these serve different functions. A trademark protects a logo or name. Patents protect inventions and novel ideas while a copyright protects a person’s original work of “authorship” like a song or book.
What is a Trademark:
Trademarks protect business identifiers like names and logos. They protect your business’s name and goodwill. A trademark on a an established brand is invaluable. That’s why they’re important to consider before you scale your biz and hit the big time.
need more info on copyrights?
Let’s use a fun example:
J.K. Rowling is the author of the Harry Potter series. A copyright protects her rights to her creative work, the Harry Potter franchise. She partnered with Warner Bros. Studios to create the films. Warner Bros. certainly has a trademark to for its logo and likely stipulated to sole copyright privileges to produce the Harry Potter film franchise. If the wizarding world had intellectual property rights, you could bet Mr. Olivander would patent his wand creations and Fred and George would get some patents for their Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.
It is pretty obvious why someone like J.K. Rowling would want to protect her literary genius, but what’s the actual value in a trademark? One of the most iconic trademarked images is the Nike Swoosh. Imagine if anyone could put that mark on their product. As a consumer, you may value the quality of Nike products, but when that swoosh can appear anywhere, you may not know what you’re buying. Is this a Nike product or a poor imitation with the same mark? Consider a world where a car manufacturer could sell you a fancy looking but barely functional vehicle plastered with the Ferrari mark that has 100 horsepower. You could easily be swindled. Maybe you have a secret obsession with McDonalds. You love their fries. If anyone can put the golden arches in front of their business and model their restaurant off the same color scheme, you would never know what you’re getting.
Trademark also protects business names. Consider Apple or Amazon. These are simple words with dictionary definitions. However, they have become trademarked brands with which we are all familiar.
What is the cost of obtaining a trademark:
There are two costs. The first is the registration fee, and the second is the attorney cost. The filing cost is between $250 and $450 depending on how you choose to file. My rate for filing starts at $750.
How long does it take to obtain a copyright:
Typically, you can expect a Trademark application to take between 6 and 12 months.
By considering how the business landscape would be different without trademark law, we can better appreciate its value.
Your trademark is a valuable asset. It tells customers or clients what they’re getting and can establish brand loyalty. You should consider a trademark for your business name and/or logo. If you want some more info on my Trademarks and Copyrights, check out my free download on the topic.
Talk with an attorney before your business gets started on how to position yourself for the trademark process. You can find my rates here. If you want to chat about getting yourself a Trademark, fill out my contact page, and we can schedule a call or meeting.