October 24, 2014
Trademark: Trademarks include words, phrases, pictures, logos, or symbols. These marks are used to label your products/ brand with the specific word, phrase, logo, picture, and/or symbol that you have chosen. Trademarks come in a variety of different classes - These classes are defined by the type of products you are selling. In order to claim all rights for your mark(s), you must apply for a trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or with your State Secretary.
Do yourself a favor and make sure you own your trademark(s) before using them. You do not have to register your trademark(s) in order to use them, but it is highly recommended. You should aim to register your trademark(s) as soon as possible to ensure that you have all of the rights to use the mark(s), and to protect them from the use of another party. You can register your trademark(s) with the Unites States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) or with your state government. The USPTO charges a fee of $325 per class, and provides protection for your mark(s) across the entire country. Each class is defined by the type of product or service you wish to register your trademark under. For example, if your trademark was John Doe™, and you wanted to register your trademark under clothing and sports equipment, you would have to pay $325 for the clothing class and $325 for sports equipment class. A trademark registration through your state government is generally much cheaper, but provides your mark(s) with less protection which usually only applies within the state your business is located in. Depending on how you wish to conduct business, each option may be more benefitting than the other. Just be sure to register your trademark(s) in some form whenever you have the capability. Keep in mind, your company committing trademark infringement is not the only possible negative outcome from failing to register your trademark(s). Failing to register your trademark(s) before exposing your brand to the world can result in the theft of your mark(s). This means if you post pictures of your brand including your brand name or logo before you register your trademark(s), register your business, and/ or manufacture any products, it is possible for someone to steal your mark(s) and claim them as their own. If someone notices that you have an appealing logo but you are not a registered business, they may attempt to steal your mark(s) - Unless you have proof that you own the material, you will be completely out of luck. Do not make any mistakes before you get started. Have the peace of mind knowing that you own all of the material you are deciding to use.
Trademark infringement occurs when one party uses a trademark that is the same, or confusingly similar to a mark owned by another company, for the use of similar products in which the trademark registration covers. Trademark infringement can also occur with a business name and/ or domain name that is confusingly similar to the trademark of another party. If your business was to infringe on a trademark of another business, this could lead to serious lawsuits as well as the termination of your business. You must avoid trademark infringement at all costs.
If you believe you are a victim of trademark infringement, it is best to contact an attorney immediately and explain your situation to him/ her. You or your lawyer should send a letter demanding that the infringement cease (Cease & Desist letter). If your requests were ignored, you should then take further action and bring the responsible party to court. But before you decide to proceed with the accusation, do a quick review to see whether your time and money is benefitting you and your business. You do not want to waste your entire life savings and/or company's capital to win the case if it is not worth it - Only proceed if it is worth the expense.
Copyrights: A copyright is a form of protection that covers literary, artistic, musical and other specific creative works to those with "original works of authorship". You can copyright your work if it is both published and unpublished.
Many people become confused with the differences between copyrights and trademarks. Just like a trademark, you have the option to register your material, but you do not need to do so in order to claim your material copyrighted. Your work is automatically copyrighted as soon as it is created. However, your work may not be "safe" unless it is registered. Many people have had their work(s) stolen and reclaimed by another party. Registering your copyrights is a very wise decision and provides you with far more protection.
Please visit the following link in order to get a better understanding of copyrights:
The answer is simple, NO. You absolutely cannot use the trademark or copyright of another party, without the owner's consent. Even if you slightly alter the design, you are still violating the trademark/ copyright laws. Many designers feel that if you change the design you are able to use it, and are still doing so today. However, this is absolutely untrue. If your "altered" design is similar enough to the original design, you are violating the trademark/ copyright laws which may result in lawsuits against your company. This has happened to many brands before, and CAN happen to you. Do not use another party's trademark/ copyright unless you have written consent from the owner of the material allowing you to do so.