What Happened?: The creative person and the business-minded person are often one and the same, but sometimes, creative types can be so wrapped up in their artistic output—of any type or kind—that they forget about an all-too-common problem that affects the ability to earn a living off of that output: I’m talking about copycats, forgers, counterfeiters, and fraudsters. These are the kinds of people who think “why should I come up with something creative and of-value on my own, when I can just palm off what this other gal or guy did?” I’ve seen this in small businesses that run the gamut from services and goods to performing artists and visual artists. This article is specific to trademarks and those types of rights, but in a related post, I’ll talk more about protecting copyrights in music and other media.

Can You be More Specific?: I’ll try! So picture this: you and three friends get together. You write a dozen killer rock songs and start calling yourselves “Zippy and the Dirty Dogs.” You start gigging out, and next thing you know, you’re getting invited on tours along the whole east coast opening up for Whitesnake on their reunion tour. Your artist friend draws up a logo for you, and you put it on your stickers, your t-shirts, and your demo cd’s (or tapes, or whatever the kids are using these days). Next thing you know, Zippy is a household name, and fans are paying $20-30 or more to own some of your branded merchandise. You sell the dickens out of that merch on tour, and online through your bandcamp or other webpage. Zippy is a success!

One day, a company with less-than-noble intentions decides “hey, those Zippy guys, their merchandise is popular, their logo is cool; let’s print some bootlegs and put ’em on facebook!” So the bad actor prints, markets, sell, and profits off of your name, using your very designs with no permission whatsoever! Your buddy who spends too much time on the internet sees the imposter’s wares and calls you up and says “Dude, someone’s ripping off your gear!” and you check it out. Sure enough, that’s your band logo, your drawing, your “idea,” but the website directs you to pay someone for it, and that someone ain’t you! You ask yourself “WHAT DO I DO NOW??

Maybe you call or e-mail the site that is hosting the bogus sales. They don’t seem to care. You reach out to your band manager. He puts down his hoagie long enough to tell you “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” This is where the long and glorious arm of the law can come into play: I’m talking about legal protection of intellectual property rights!

Once you know you “have something,” whether it’s a logo, a company name, a band name, or just a creative t-shirt design that you want to be all yours and off of which you want be able to earn something, that’s when you can avail yourself of trademark protections. With the services of an attorney (or on your own, if you’re highly initiated!) you can take your logo or other concept and make it into a trademarked design, with the protections of the laws of the United States, the Commonwealth of Virginia, or both!

I love to prepare trademarks for bands and other creatives, so if you want to talk to me about getting some professional assistance, E-mail me, Call me at (804) 250-8911 or fill out the form available here.


Notice: The content of this blog entry is not, and should not be construed as, legal advice. To the extent this blog entry is a legal advertisement, it originates with the Law Office of Thomas Bishop, licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


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