Hello – welcome to 2019. Because it is 2019, we really have to ask: Can you trademark a hashtag?
In the world of Instagram fame and viral tweets, creatives need to know whether or not their unique hashtags can count as intellectual property and whether or not that property can be properly trademarked. With a bit of guidance form Erica DiAngelo from DiAngelo Law, we found out that YES, you absolutely can trademark your unique hashtags. The difference here is that other people are still able to use the hashtag even though you own it.
Hashtags and Trademarking: The Details
Hashtags are now searchable tools that people use on social media. Ideally, you would want people to use them all the time if it was synonymous with your brand. To qualify for a trademark of your hashtag, it must be used to directly identify a product or service. If you qualify, you can protect yourself from the infringement of other entities on your hashtag and prevent them from impersonating your brand. As stated, others are still free to use your hashtag reasonably on social media.
As an example, our company My Clone Solution provides an array or lead generation services. Because the phrase “lead gen” is descriptive in nature, it could not qualify for trademarking. Whereas if My Clone Solution offered a service called the “Super Lead Solution,” we could trademark it because it describes a specific service we offer.
The Golden Rules for trademarking your hashtag are to make sure that it actually works for your business. Make sure that it is not too generalized or descriptive. Again, these are general guidelines for trademarking. We always recommend seeking out a local expert for all your trademarking needs.
If you have a brand, company or service that you want people to identify, then you most likely need a trademark. Before filing a trademark, you need to make sure you have a name that could actually be registered.
First, you want to make sure nobody else has the same name or logo that you plan on using. If someone else owns it, or something similar, forget about it. You don’t want to have your application end up in refusal. The next thing to keep in mind is whether or not your name is specifically geographic or descriptive in nature. Often times if a brand is over localized the trademark office will deny your application. After you’ve made sure that your name or logo is unique to your company and the name is reasonable, you may want to consult with a trademark attorney to tie up any loose ends for your brand.
If you’ve gotten professional approval, it’s time to visit the USPTO website and begin your filing!
You will need to fill out the general application about your business, services, and logo. The next step will be to identify which international class your trademark falls into. If your trademark falls into multiple classes, the application fees will vary accordingly.
There isn’t an automated process that approves or denies your submission. There is a trademark examiner who physically examines your brand. They may be very particular in how you define your products and services.
Once you’ve submitted your application for trademarking, you are not able to go back and broaden the categories that your trademark can serve. Make sure to have your ID of Goods correct from the start. The process of getting your trademark approved or denied takes around four months. If you fail to meet all the requirements and receive a refusal, you may find yourself spending 6 to 8 months just to get your brand trademarked.
Conclusion: Maximize Your Budget and Lean on the Experts
When it comes to the products and services your trademark can represent, there are strategies available to maximize your budget when it comes time to file. That’s why it’s a good idea to do your research before you start your application. We highly recommend that you consult a patent or copyright attorney to make sure you’re getting the most out of your new registration.
People have called My Clone Solution the swiss army knife of business, and we’ve earned that title for a reason. But, a swiss army knife is not going to help you cut down a whole tree, but it’ll definitely get you started. That’s what we do. We understand that My Clone Solution isn’t an expert on trademark law, which is why we’re so delighted that Erica DiAngelo could join us. A repeated theme here is to seek out expert counsel since every trademark situation is different.
Watch our videos. Do your research. Consult an expert.
On this edition of Google My Business, we’re joined by Erica DiAngelo of DiAngelo Law.DiAngelo Law focuses on intellectual property and contract law in Tampa, Florida. Her firm is well-versed in all areas of business law, and has a special passion for helping clients in the tech industry.
We see them all the time but do we really know what they mean? Follow along as we break these symbols down and see whether or not your business is using the right ones.
Which Symbol is Right For My Business?
To start, the ™ logo, most commonly known as the TradeMark icon is used when wanting to claim ownership over a logo or word. The thing with this icon is that you can freely use it without actually having the trademark registration in place as long as no one else who already has the ™ mark has it registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office for their logo or branded words.
The next icon may not be as familiar as the others but it does exist. If your offer is a service, you’re able to use the (SM) icon to claim ownership over your business. The (SM) functions in the same way the ™ icon does. If your business offers a combination of products and services, it’s best to stick to the ™ icon. The (SM) icon identifies your business as one that strictly offers services.
The ® means that your trademarked item, whether it be a logo or a phrase, is actually registered. This is the strongest symbol of ownership you’re able to use for your brand. This icon can only be used if your brand is registered.
If you are using the incorrect icon, there is a legal argument that you may not have all the same rights if an entrenchment case regarding your ownership were to come up.
Make sure you take the time to understand the right icon for your ownership.
In short, no, an office action letter is not a death sentence. When it comes to filing a trademark for your business, there isn’t a guarantee that everything is going to go smoothly the first time around. After filing your trademark you may receive an Office Action Letter from the USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office). If you happen to get one of these OAL’s in the mail, don’t panic. There are always ways around it.
What Exactly is an Office Action Letter?
An Office Action Letter is a preliminary refusal of your trademark application. This can happen for a variety of reasons. After the USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office) reviews your application, they will indicate a reason for refusal and solutions to proceed with filing your trademark. Usually, a refusal falls into one of two categories: administrative or substantive. Most commonly, refusals fall into the administrative category.
One example of an administrative refusal might stem from not disclaiming that a piece of your mark is not registerable. For instance, your business is called “Joe’s Coffee Shop.” If you neglect to disclaim that the term “coffee shop” is not registerable, then your trademark might get rejected.
Another administrative roadblock can happen when foreign words are being used in trademarks. It’s frustrating to wait four months for a refusal letter over something as small as this, but the good thing is that this is fairly easy to overcome with a bit of extra paperwork.
When it comes to substantive refusal, things get a bit more tricky. Substantive refusals can happen when there is a perceived likelihood of confusion between your trademark and others that are already registered. Another reason for a substantive refusal office action letter may be due to descriptiveness and geography. Unfortunately, if this happens, there may not be much for you to do. Those rulings are hard to overturn.
What to Do After You Recieve the Office Action Letter
Should you get an office action letter, it’s coming from the desk of the Trade Mark Examiner. Their job is to make sure trademarks are not too similar and each filer’s integrity is protected. If your business receives one of these letters it’s time to do an evaluation. Your evaluation will require legal analysis and an understanding of trademark law. Understanding landmark cases that have changed the way examiners are required to make these evaluations will only strengthen your case.
When defending the originality of one’s trademark, the landmark DuPont case is often referenced. This case birthed the DuPont Factors which examiners use today to determine whether or not a business’s branding is able to be trademarked. The burden of proof falls on the applicant. To show that their trademark does not infringe on another’s or invoke confusion, use the requirements outlined in the DuPont factors.
We always recommend consulting an expert and doing your research before paying to file your trademark. Contact My Clone Solution if you need an introduction to a tax attorney.
When it comes to registering your trademark, not all forms or registration are created equal. When you register your trademark you will fall into either the principal registrar or the supplemental registrar. Your goal is to have your trademark end up on the principal registrar.
The principal registrar provides your trademark with the greatest amount of protection under the law. Filings end up on the supplemental registrar instead because they are too descriptive, geographical in nature, or not unique enough. In this blog, we’re going to give you the details on principal vs supplemental trademark registration- and why they’re both better than common law.
Principal Vs Supplemental Trademark Registration
The biggest benefit of being on the principal vs supplemental trademark registration is that you have incontestability on your side after using the trademark for 7 years. If there was an infringement dispute, whoever does not own the registration mark carries the burden. In other words: You can’t be challenged (easily) on a principal trademark. In fact, the principal registrar entitles you to a formal legal announcement to the business community that your assets have been trademarked. On the supplemental registrar, that sort of benefit doesn’t exist. Instead, your trademark protection is most similar to those under common law rights.
Don’t Common Law It
There will always be those who decide to try and fly under the radar. You shouldn’t settle for common low. Having some registration is better than having none at all. The benefit of being on the supplemental registrar rather than settling for common law protection is that you’re able to sue in a federal court if your intellectual property is infringed. With a supplemental registration, you have legal remedies available to you.
Through common law, your brand doesn’t have full protection. It won’t matter if you had your idea first. Whoever followed formality first will win in court. You don’t have the same legal remedies as someone with formal registration.
The bottom line is that if you’ve created something of value and you’d like to protect it, formally register it with the US Patent and Trademark office. Consult an expert before filing and do all your research to make sure your trademark ends up on the principal registrar.
Mac VS PC …that is the age-old questions among those looking for a new computer. Macs have their strengths as well as their weaknesses. PC’s are the same. At the end of the day, it truly depends on what you plan on doing with your new computer. Today we have Louis W Ayoub from itelliTECH to answer this question.
Mac or PC: It Depends on What You’re Doing With Your Computer
Currently, the world runs on PC. Unless you’re specifically working in arts, such as music, graphic design or video editing, PC will generally be the preferred tool of choice for your work. All government, scholastic and most not art-based businesses use PC for their day to day functions. Mac’s biggest upside is that their hardware and software are made by the same company – typically these machines run longer. They are more expensive up front, but more often than not, you will get your monies worth.
The first question we typically ask is what sort of software do you plan on running? All software does not run the same on all systems and this is a fact.
Take for instance Quickbooks. Quickbooks was originally created to run on Windows but due to quickly growing diverse preferences, Quickbooks needed to adapt and is now available on Mac. Based on general user feedback, Quickbooks runs better on PC than Mac. Conversely, when it comes to using the full Adobe Suite, such as Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere or Audition, Macs are typically better suited for handling tasks of that nature. As you consider your purchase, be sure to assess your needs and the software you plan on using.
The components of PC computers are made by various companies which can lead to more break downs and potential failures if you don’t pay for a premium product. Keep this in mind when you’re considering the longevity of your machine.
Not only is the device you plan on buying important, but the devices you already own matter as well. If you own an iPad, apple watch, and iPhone, purchasing a Mac might make more sense for your overall lifestyle. Consider your budget, your needs, and the integration of your technology before you make a purchase. It will save you many unnecessary headaches in the long run.
Long story short? In the battle of Mac VS PC, focus on what you already have in terms of technology. Make a purchase that reflects your daily needs.