Show you claim something as a trademark? Do you have to register trademarks? How can we protect trademarks in social media? And more trademark questions answered by entertainment lawyer Gordon Firemark.
Sponsor: GoToMeeting with HD Faces makes it easy to collaborate online anytime. Try it Free!
What is a trademark
A distinctive brand or title to identity a product, service, or company.
“Descriptive” titles, like “how to podcast,” are difficult to trademark until it's well-known as associated with a particular company or person.
Should we trademark our own stuff?
- Not individual episode or blog post titles
- Trademark a “series,” like the website or podcast name
How do we claim something as a trademark?
Trademark registration gives broader rights and protections to the trademark-owner. But it could cost about $1,000 per trademark.
Indicate a trademark with one of these three symbols:
- ™ Goods or products
- ® Registered trademark
- SM A service mark (best for podcasters)
How can we protect our trademark?
Lanham Act established trademark protection, even if your mark isn't registered, against people competing with you.
If someone just uses the descriptive words of your trademark, it's permissible. But if they are titling something with the same trademark, then you have the right to ask them to change it. Sometimes, they'll be respectful, sometimes not. Always start with a pleasant, respectful request.
Claiming a trademark means you're obligated to protect it, even an unregistered trademark. If you don't protect your trademark, you'll lose it.
What if we haven't indicated our trademarks?
The symbols aren't necessary for unregistered trademarks, but it's a recognizable way to notify the world that you're claiming the trademark.
But if you have registered your trademark, you are required to indicate the registration.
Protecting a trademark in social media
Most social-media companies have clear policies for protecting registered trademarks. Often, they'll also respect unregistered trademarks if you can demonstrate you're entitled to it.
I've found that other services, like Instagram, have no protections for trademark violations in their service. It's totally first come, first serve.
Register your “trademarks” in any legitimate-looking service you find pop up.
About Gordon Firemark
- The Podcast, Blog & New Media Producer's Legal Survival Guide
- Entertainment Law Update podcast
- Follow @GFiremark
Still upcoming in our law series
- Privacy policies, disclaimers, and notices
- Podcasting as a business with tax benefits
Podcasting poll: have you registered a copyright or trademark?
I'm speaking in the Podcasting 101 track at BlogWorld NYC!
Please join me at BlogWorld in New York City on June 5–7. I'll be one of the panelists in the Podcasting 101 track and presenting on the last day of the conference.
Register for BlogWorld NYC for the early discount! Use promo code “PodLewis10” to save 10% off your admission.
Follow my personal blog, if you care about me
How's that for a guilt trip? I've started a personal blog at DanielJLewis.net, sharing thoughts and reviews on technology, social media, web design, freelancing, productivity, personal updates, and everything else I want to talk about that doesn't fit in my many other websites.
Please retweet this post!
Use the social buttons or retweet the following.
— Daniel J. Lewis (@theDanielJLewis) April 23, 2012
Need personalized podcasting help?
Ask your questions or share your feedback
- Comment on the shownotes
- Leave a voicemail at (903) 231-2221
- Email feedback@TheAudacitytoPodcast.com (audio files welcome)
Connect with me
- Subscribe to The Audacity to Podcast on Apple Podcasts or on Android.
- Join the Facebook Page and watch live podcasting Q&A on Mondays at 2pm (ET)
- Subscribe on YouTube for video reviews, Q&A, and more
- Follow @theDanielJLewis
This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.