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Is the International Patent & Trademark Index (IPTI) A Scam?

Posted by Randy Michels on Apr 29, 2016 8:29:45 AM

One of the many benefits of a federal trademark registration is that it can serve as a basis for obtaining registrations in foreign countries. Unfortunately, a federal trademark registration can also make you a target for foreign scammers. Foreign scammers use information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO's) database to send trademark solicitations.

Within a matter of days of receiving a federal trademark registration, one of our clients received this official-looking invoice from the International Patent & Trademark Index (IPTI) for $2,356:

What is the IPTI? It is not a government agency. The U.S. trademark system is administered by the USPTO, which is located in Alexandria, Virginia. The international trademark system is administered by the Word Intellectual Property Organization, which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The IPTI is located in the Slovak Republic.

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Topics: Scams

Is The WPAT A Trademark Scam?

Posted by Randy Michels on Apr 28, 2016 7:14:21 AM

One of the many benefits of a federal trademark registration is that it can serve as a basis for obtaining registrations in foreign countries. Unfortunately, a federal trademark registration can also make you a target for foreign scammers. Foreign scammers use information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO's) database to send trademark solicitations.

Within a matter of days of receiving a federal trademark registration, one of our clients received this official-looking invoice from WPAT for $2,738:

What is the WPAT? It is not a government agency. The U.S. trademark system is administered by the USPTO, which is located in Alexandria, Virginia. The international trademark system is administered by the Word Intellectual Property Organization, which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WPAT is located in the Slovak Republic.

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Topics: Scams

Prince's Trademark Legacy

Posted by Randy Michels on Apr 22, 2016 9:37:56 AM

Like most people, I was shocked by the news of Prince's passing. I grew up in the '80's, and Prince's music was part of the soundtrack of my youth.

Obviously, Prince leaves behind an enormous musical legacy. He also leaves behind a few trademark lessons.

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You may recall that Prince once changed his name to the "Love Symbol" shown above. That was no publicity stunt. In fact, the decision was prompted by legal maneuvering related to a contract dispute with his record label. At the time, Prince appeared in public with the word “slave” written on his cheek and gave the following statement:

The first step I have taken toward the ultimate goal of emancipation from the chains that bind me to Warner Bros. was to change my name from Prince to the Love Symbol. Prince is the name that my mother gave me at birth. Warner Bros. took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all of the music that I wrote. The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros.

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Is The International Patent and Trademark Service (IPTS) A Scam?

Posted by Randy Michels on Feb 24, 2016 10:28:08 AM

One of the many benefits of a federal trademark registration is that it can serve as a basis for obtaining registrations in foreign countries. Unfortunately, a federal trademark can also make you a target for foreign scammers. Foreign scammers use information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO's) database to send trademark solicitations.

Recently, one of our clients received this official-looking invoice for $1,390 from the International Patent and Trademark Service (IPTS):

What is the IPTS? It is not a government agency. The U.S. trademark system is administered by the USPTO, which is located in Alexandria, Virginia. The international trademark system is administered by the Word Intellectual Property Organization, which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The IPTS is located in Warszawa, Poland.

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Topics: Scams

How To Protect Packaging With Trademarks

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 27, 2016 4:47:52 PM

Distinctive packaging can drive sales, but it can also lead to knockoffs. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it kills value in the branding world. How you protect your packaging can have a tremendous impact on the return you will obtain from your business.

The best way to protect your packaging is with a trademark. A trademark is usually a brand name, slogan, or logo, but it can also be packaging that serves as a source identifier for particular products or services.

Sign up here for a free trademark assessment and learn your safety score.

Packaging that functions as a trademark is entitled to a limited scope of protection. To maximize this protection, you need a federal trademark registration. Federal trademark registration provides important legal benefits such as a presumption of nationwide validity and the right to use the ® symbol.

Before pursuing federal trademark protection, you should consider whether your packaging is registrable. Registration will be refused if the packaging is found to be functional and/or nondistinctive.

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Topics: Trade Dress

How To Avoid A Trademark "Party Fowl"

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 27, 2016 12:45:33 PM

Nashville is famous for being the home of country music, but it's developing quite a reputation as a culinary hot spot. This has helped raise the profile of one of Nashville's signature dishes: hot chicken.

The origins of hot chicken can be traced to Prince's Hot Chicken Shack. Thornton Prince was rumored to be quite the ladies man. After a particularly late night out, Prince's girlfriend cooked him a fried chicken breakfast with extra pepper as revenge. Prince liked it so much that he created his own recipe and opened the restaurant bearing his name in the 1930's.

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Hot chicken is now featured prominently around Nashville. Besides Prince's, popular hot chicken restaurants include Hattie B's and Party Fowl. Last year, I welcomed a trademark lawyer from New Zealand to town and introduced him to hot chicken at Party Fowl.

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Topics: Trademark Search

10 Reasons Your Startup Needs Federal Trademark Protection Today

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 27, 2016 11:45:17 AM

Brands are probably the most valuable assets that companies own. This is true for both large companies and startups.

Each of the 10 most valuable brands in the world is worth billions of dollars. Compare these brand values with the market value of the companies owning the brands and the power of brands is obvious.

Trademarks are one of the main components of a brand. A trademark is a brand name, slogan, or logo. It can also be a sound, a color, or even a smell. Pretty much anything can be a trademark as long as it identifies the source of goods and services and distinguishes them from the goods and services of others.

The best way to protect your trademark is with a federal trademark registration. Before pursuing federal trademark protection, however, you should run a free trademark search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database to identify obvious conflicts with pre-existing trademarks owned by someone else.

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Topics: Trademark Registration

Celebrity Chefs Cook Up Trademark Success in Nashville

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 27, 2016 11:10:37 AM

Nashville is world famous for its music industry, but it's the culinary scene that's getting a lot of attention recently. In addition to a vibrant local food scene, celebrity chefs like Jonathan Waxman (shown above), Sean Brock, Maneet Chauhan, Dale Levitski, Richard Blais, and Donald Link have all recently opened restaurants.

In today's increasingly competitive restaurant industry, brands are probably the most valuable assets that celebrity chefs own. They play a critical role in generating demand and building relationships with customers and partners. This is known as developing “goodwill.” A trademark is an embodiment of this goodwill.

Sign up here for a free trademark assessment and learn your safety score.

A trademark is a brand name, slogan, or logo. It can also be a sound, a color, or even a smell. Pretty much anything can be a trademark as long as it identifies the source of goods and services and distinguishes them from the goods and services of others.

The best way to protect your trademark is with a federal trademark registration. Federal trademark registration provides important legal benefits such as a presumption of nationwide validity and the right to use the ® symbol. Federal registration can also be instrumental in enforcing rights with social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.

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Topics: Branding

Best Practices for Brands - Trademark Searching

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 27, 2016 10:35:58 AM

Brands are often the most valuable assets that companies own, driving demand and building relationships with customers and partners. Check out the eye-popping values of the world's top 10 brands as calculated by leading brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance:

Given the dollars involved, companies vigilantly protect their brands with trademarks for words or designs that are unique to their business - including logos, company names, tag lines, product packaging, sounds and even smells. This creates a potentially devastating trap for the unwary. Take, for example, the case of Dallas-based yogurt shop Monster Yogurt.

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Topics: Trademark Search

Harlem Globetrotters Show Off Trademark Tricks

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 26, 2016 5:22:34 PM

 

College basketball season is heating up, and teams are positioning themselves for the NCAA tournament. Long before the NCAA tournament became the preeminent showcase for young basketball players, the country's best talent was found on the Harlem Globetrotters.

The Harlem Globetrotters began in 1926 as the Savoy Big Five. Now more than 89 years and 20,000 games later, the team has become one of the most recognizable franchises in sports.

Sign up here for a free trademark assessment and learn your safety score.

While the Globetrotters are known for their comedy and athleticism, they also have a history of playing "serious" basketball. On November 11, 2002, the Globetrotters played Vanderbilt during a three-week tour of playing college teams. I was in attendance as one of the all-time Commodore greats, Matt Freije, nailed a 18 foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to beat the Globetrotters 70-68. Coincidentally, a sophomore forward on that Vanderbilt squad, Corey Smith, would eventually wear the famous red, white and blue uniform himself after graduating from Vanderbilt.

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Topics: Trademark Registration

About This Blog

From their office in a meat packing plant turned creative community, the lawyers at Trust Tree craft articles on the importance of trademarks and the power of branding. When you visit our blog, you can expect lots of content related to those topics. Unfortunately, you can also expect lots of memes, lame jokes, bad puns, and shoutouts to Nashville. The goal of our blog is to help you learn a few things about trademarks in the least painful way possible.

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