Protecting your intellectual property is so important. Your name, logo, and business creations tell your customers who you are. So making sure that no one can steal your company’s brand is one of the first steps you should make when starting a business. We asked some of our small business experts if they had any IP horror stories from when they were first starting out. Here’s what they had to say… (more…)
On today’s MyCorp FAQs segment, we’ll be going over the difference between a DBA and a trademark- two things many of our customers have confused in the past. It’s easy to see how the two could be confused when they both offer the same service: protection. Both a DBA and trademark will protect your business’s name, but it’s the ways in which they protect, and the lengths they go to that differ. (more…)
It’s almost Christmas! And with the holiday season has come the annual barrage of holiday advertising. As someone who works with businesses, entrepreneurs, and brands, I actually really enjoy holiday marketing. Not only does it help you get into the spirit, but it’s a lot of fun to see how major marketing firms tackle the holidays. After asking around the office, it seems I’m not the only one who actually likes holiday marketing! And so we thought it’d be fun to take a look at Team MyCorp’s top 5 holiday campaigns.
Coke knows how to use its brand, and every year we normally see a new iteration of an image Coke has been using since 1931 to market during the holidays. That Santa-Claus, which was drawn by Haddon Sundblom for Coca-Cola ad agency director Archie Lee, is such a ubiquitous and long-lasting part of Coca-Cola’s brand that, for a while, it was rumored Coca-Cola actually created our modern image of Santa Claus, with the white and red being Coke’s primary colors. Though that rumor isn’t true, as time wore on, many began to associate the Sundblom Santa with all of the pleasant feelings that normally accompany Christmas. And Coca-Cola has certainly ensured that their trademark Santa would continue to be an important part of the holiday season. Nearly every year, that Santa shows up in some way – be it in a wider marketing campaign, on branded merchandise, or on the cans themselves. (more…)
DBA stands for “doing business as” and allows your company to do business under a fictitious name (AKA one you made up) instead of your own personal name, names of your partners, or the name of your corporation or LLC. In order to do this, you must file for a DBA.
1) Does your company even need a DBA?
The first step in creating a DBA is determining if you even need one. The answer depends on whether your business operates as a sole proprietorship or as a corporation or LLC.
For Sole Proprietorships:
The only reason to not get a DBA is if you want your business to operate under your personal name only. Picking a business name will plant the seed for your brand to grow strong – and filing a DBA will protect it.
If your corporation or LLC wants to conduct any sort of business with a name that is different than the one you filed on your corporation/LLC paperwork, then you need a DBA.
Entrepreneurs are always going to be protective of their business’s name. After all, this is the name under which all of the goodwill and branding they’ve worked so hard to accrue will go. But there is still some confusion about the best way to protect that name. On the one hand, registering a ‘Doing Business As’ name does keep other businesses in your area from using the same name, and for some businesses that’s enough. While a trademark on your business’s name offers a lot more protection, filing a trademark does take more time and money. So we decided to take a look at both DBA names and trademarks, and help explain what the pros and cons of each are.
Doing Business As Names
A DBA name, which is also referred to as a trade name, is just that – a name. It’s a quick and easy way to identify a business or entity, and filing for a DBA name is pretty straightforward. (more…)
Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am wasn’t singing “Happy” when he sought legal action against Oscar-nominated music producer Pharrell Williams. Will.i.am accused his fellow musician of not respecting the intellectual property rights of others while alluding to an ongoing dispute Pharrell and Robin Thicke are having with Marvin Gaye over the hit song “Blurred Lines.”
Will.i.am’s gripe stemmed from a trademark application Pharrell filed to secure his interest in his brand I AM OTHER. In their own words: “The I Am Other mark means ‘I am something else,’ leaving what that ‘else’ is to the imagination of the consumer… It certainly does not mean ‘I am Will’ or in any way suggest defendants’ or the will.i.am mark.” All that can be translated to mean: consumers looking at goods bearing Pharrell’s I AM OTHER would likely confuse them as originating from will.i.am.
In his his defense, Williams asserted will.i.am would have a hard time proving he controlled the “I Am” trademark pointing out the existence of the famed Dr. Seuss character Sam I Am as well as the 146 other artists who use the “I Am” construction in their monikers. The parties ultimately settled outside of court though Pharrell commented he found the whole thing “ridiculous” telling Rolling Stone Magazine, “I am disappointed that Will, a fellow artist, would file a case against me,” he said. “I am someone who likes to talk things out and, in fact, I attempted to do just that on many occasions.”
Share your opinion on this trademark law issue with us! And, as always, if you have any patent, trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property related questions, don’t hesitate to contact us by calling: (310) 276-6664.
The Omni Legal Group was founded in Los Angeles, California by Omid Khalifeh. Mr. Khalifeh is a published attorney who has experience dealing with a wide variety of intellectual property issues. He has worked on matters for Fortune 500 companies and represents clients in disputes involving copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and cyberlaw disputes. Mr. Khalifeh received his Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles and his Juris Doctorate from the Chapman University School of Law where he was awarded a full tuition scholarship to attend. He is the author of The Gene Wars: Science, the Law and the Human Genome (Loyola Law Review) and has been invited to speak at conferences across the country about changes in intellectual property law.
This week we thought it’d be a good idea to look at one of the most important parts of a product’s branding, its trade dress. You are affected by trade dress every single day, whether you realize it or not. If we describe a white coffee cup with a green circle on it, you’ll know it’s from Starbucks. Or if we show you a bag with a red square and yellow arches, you’ll think McDonalds. Essentially, trade dress is the various characteristics that make up a product’s or package’s appearance. But how do you protect your own trade dress? And does building a brand mean marrying that packaging?
Why should you build trade dress recognition?
Because your company needs a way to immediately distinguish itself. Your brand embodies all of the goodwill and trust you’ve built into your company, and something as simple as a color, font, or even the shape of your product’s box can evoke all of those feelings within whatever customer is looking at your product. That’s why you want your trade dress to be consistent over all of your properties. Your logo, signage, site, and product packaging should all be built around some common element that inextricably ties your business with your product or service.
Are you a potential entrepreneur considering venturing into starting up your own business? If so, it’s important that you start familiarizing yourself with information on how to succeed in the current business climate right now. Operating a small business requires you to possess the necessary skills to plan and manage the business efficiently and a vision that seeks to grow from nothing to something substantial after a period of time. Here are the top 5 things an entrepreneur needs to know before starting up a small business.
1. A perfect business plan is indispensable.
A business plan is the foundation of any successful company today. It serves to chart out the goals of the business as well as the possible ways of achieving them and acts as a blueprint that outlines the road to the future of any business. It’s also a necessity when seeking financial help to set up your business, hiring future employees, and keeping track on how you run your business once it’s operational.
Business Basics started out as a way to educate would-be and current entrepreneurs on the basics of running a business, and has slowly morphed into a place where we can try to tackle some of the most common questions we get about the ins-and-outs of business ownership. But, after looking through a few old posts, we were surprised we hadn’t delved into a very, very important part of running a business – protecting your intellectual property! To help rectify this, here is the first post in a series looking at IP protection. This week we are going to look at the trademark.
What, exactly, does a trademark do?
In these tough economic times, it’s important that you carry out all necessary procedures to safeguard your business. Money may be tight but competition is rife, so you MUST keep all cards close to your chest to protect the company’s future.
There are various ways that you can keep your business secure and no we’re not talking about putting up CCTV or an iron gate. Yes, your business should have measures for physical security but today we’re discussing ways to keep your firm financially secure and here are 6 tips brought to you by the team at Real Business Rescue.