Trademark Services & Searches

When Should I Conduct a Trademark Search & How Are They Done?

The original version of General Electric's cir...
The original version of General Electric’s circular logo and trademark. The trademark application was filed on July 24, 1899, and registered on September 18, 1900 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are There Limits to What is Discovered In a Trademark Search?

Is Registration Required For Trademark Rights?

Can Misspelled And Slang Words & Phrases Be Trademarks?

Does Use of a Trademark Confer Common Law Rights?

A Trademark Application Has Been Abandoned, Does That Mean I Can Use The Trademark?

When To Conduct A Trademark Search.

Sometimes the Adler Law Group, (“Firm”) is called upon to perform trademark searches or trademark application filings. However, it is vital to understand the limits inherent in the process and the ability to determine the availability of any given trademark. The Firm NEVER conducts a search to determine, or opine on, the availability of any given trademark unless specifically engaged to do so.

A Trademark Search should always be conducted well before one begins using a trademark. For example, if  you are planning a marketing campaign around a name or phrase, you should make sure that the proposed mark is “clear”, i.e., no one else is using anything “confusingly similar” for the same or similar goods and services. Failure to clear a mark for use can lead to claims for damages for infringement and/or dilution, loss of goodwill and loss of the goods themselves, not to mention loss of the time and expense creating, developing and marketing the product or service.

Trademark Searches Have Limits.

Although the search process is intended to reduce the potential for infringement and dilution claims, the risk of challenge to an application, registration or mere use of a mark is never completely eliminated. Even an especially thorough search may not uncover every potentially conflicting mark.

Registration Is Not Required For Trademark Rights.

Registration with the Trademark Office is not a prerequisite to obtaining trademark rights in the U.S. Many valid trademarks exist at common law without ever appearing on the federal trademark register. Some appear in state trademark registrations (although these registrations do not always reflect actual use); others are not registered at all.

Misspelled And Slang Words & Phrases May Be Trademarks.

Trademarks are source identifiers. therefore, to the extent that a trademark is distinctive, identifiable and memorable it is more protectable. Brand names often incorporate deliberate misspellings, puns, slang, and other variations on otherwise common words. Although a search would attempt to retrieve corrupted spellings, word plays and colloquialisms, there is no guarantee that all such variations will be found. As an additional precaution one should consider a search for foreign language equivalents and other variants on a proposed mark.

Mere Use of a Trademark Confers Common Law Rights?

Although some effort should be made to conduct a “common law” search using Internet search engines and news databases, this is not always conclusive of common law use. Since these databases were not expressly designed for trademark searching, there is no guarantee that all common law uses, corrupted spellings, irregular spacing or punctuation, or other variations will be identified.

The Existence of a Live or Abandoned Application Is Not a Legal Opinion About The Right to Use a Trademark Registerability, Strength or Weakness.

Please note that filing an application to register a federal trademark is not a legal opinion about the registerability of any particular trademark, the right or absence of the right to use a trademark, the strength or weakness of any trademark registration or application, or the likelihood that any third party may, or may not, seek to register a similar mark, seek to oppose any application, or seek to cancel any registration.

We welcome your comments and feedback!

Social Media Policies for Fashion Companies and Clothing Labels

In fashion, innovation never goes out of style. Therefore, it is no surprise that fashion houses and clothing brandsmarket across many different

Fashion (film)
Fashion (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

social media platforms. It is axiomatic that fashion marketing requires a deep understanding of the target audience, regardless of whether that knowledge comes from online or offline interaction. Social media provides a forum for a more authentic, transparent and personal engagement with the customer, but also highlights whether a brand has judged (or misjudged) its customer base.

To be successful in social media, brands need to harness the personality, wit, charm and, in all likelihood, free time of their staff. In order to ensure positive, informative and engaging social interaction, a fashion brand’s social media rules must be smart, positive and inclusive. Here are some guidelines for drafting a social media policy that will bring out the best in your brand, your employees (brand ambassadors) and your customers.

Rather than writing out a lengthy, legal boilerplate script, keep these considerations in mind when drafting your policy:

  • Philosophy. Begin with a discussion of how social media fits into an employee’s job expectations and performance. For example, guidelines are important, because if not followed “bad things” can happen, such as losing customers or vendors, the company could get into legal trouble, or worse, you could lose your job.
  • Behavioral Expectations. This is a good place to remind employees that even though it’s a big world, you are often in a small community and, on the Internet, it’s forever. What a person says can be seen by customers and employees all over the world.  Remind employees to stick to their areas of expertise and use respectful conduct. Other watch words include “timeliness” (posts should be fresh, current and relevant), “perspective” (something that may sound clever and racy to one person may be inaccurate or offensive to another), “transparency” (be the first to point out that you are an employee and make it clear that you are not a company spokesperson) and  “judiciousness” (use caution when discussing things where emotional topics like politics and religion and show respect for others’ opinions).
  • Channel expectations. If your company has a social media strategy, make sure employees know which sites (communication channels) are appropriate for which types of communications and marketing messages.
  • Contextual Expectations. Help employees understand the context within which they are engaging customers. Suggest using a conversational style. Remember that in customer’s eyes, “perception is reality.” Add value: Make sure your posts really add to the conversation. If they promote the company’s goals and values, supports the customers, improves or helps to sell products, or helps to do jobs better, then you are adding value.
  • Content Expectations. The policy must have clear and conspicuous language about what is considered company proprietary information, including current projects, trademarks, names, logos  and how they may be used. Never: (i)  discuss or post about financial information, sales trends, strategies, forecasts, legal issues and future promotional activities; (ii) post confidential or non-public information about the company; (iii) give out personal information about customers or employees; or (iv)  respond to an offensive or negative post by a customer.
  • Consequences. Lastly, be upfront about the very real consequences if mistakes are made. If a mistake occurs, correct it immediately and be clear about what’s been done to fix it. Contact the social media team if there’s a lesson to be learned.

Fashion Law: Legal News Roundup

Israel’s Ban on Ultra-Thin Models

FASHION-SAFRICA-NIGERIA-BAKARE
FASHION-SAFRICA-NIGERIA-BAKARE (Photo credit: Bohan Shen_沈伯韩)

 

The Atlantic

By Talya Minsberg A new Israeli law prohibits fashion media and advertising from using Photoshop or models who fall below the World Health Organization’s standard for malnutrition. When a 14-year-old girl delivered a 25,000-signature petition this week to Seventeen asking them to curb their use of Photoshop, the magazine issued a press statement that congratulated the girl on her ambition but was conspicuously silent on changing their editorial practices.

An Impossible Conversation About the Met’s Spring 2012 Costume Institute Exhibit

Huffington Post (satire)

So, culturally and historically, the reason women care so much about fashion is that until very recently, we weren’t allowed professional, legal or vocal ways of expressing ourselves. Fashion was a way of articulating our feelings about ourselves.

Small Aussie fashion label turns George Lucas legal threat into ‘Star 
Dallas News Small Aussie fashion label turns George Lucas legal threat into ‘Star Wars‘ clothing deal.

AsianFashionLaw | Page 5
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Adidas-India’s ex-MD slaps legal notice on company – Fashion United
The Adidas-saga in India seems to be taking a different turn. – Fashion India News, Network, Business Community, fashion industry, international, platform for 
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