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?
We bet you still know what company this is.
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.
Most business owners realize that the marketing slogans, logos, and other trademarks and service marks used by their company are extremely valuable commodities. The amount of time, effort, and dollars that go into establishing these things can add up quickly and pay off huge with a brand that reaches large amounts of valuable customers.
But just like any other asset, these things need to be actively protected in order to keep that money from going to waste.
What Is a Trademark?
First, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re protecting.
Ready to start up your business in 2013? We here at MyCorporation have worked on pulling together a six step guide on how to successfully start up a business. From choosing your company name to selecting your state of incorporation and picking your entity type, we cover all of the basics, ensuring that the start-up process itself is simplified for all entrepreneurs.
As we make our way closer to the end of the alphabet of our ABC’s of small business, we’re tackling trademarks, which can be a name, design, or logo that distinguish a company and emphasize its uniqueness. Trademarks, as defined by businessdictionary.com, are distinctive instead of descriptive, affixed to the item sold, and registered with the appropriate authority to obtain legal ownership and protection rights. By federally registering your business name or company logo, you’ll receive notice to the public of your claim of ownership on that mark with an additional nationwide legal presumption of ownership, and the exclusive right to use that mark on or in connection with goods or services set in registration. And now that we’ve briefly covered the basics on what a trademark is and how federal registration of the mark works to protect your business and brand, we’re going to briefly cover the additional steps involved in trademarking – conducting a trademark search, registering the mark, and filing for a trademark watch.
This week’s letter-based-topic might seem like a stretch since, really, the subjects are trademarks and copyrights – neither of which begin with an r. But putting registered in front of those terms is not just a cop-out that a lazy writer has used to fit with a weekly theme. There are actually very important distinctions between registered and unregistered intellectual properties.
Technically, you do not have to register trademarked or copyrighted property. An unregistered trademark simply needs the little ™ symbol next to it and, voilà, the property is unofficially trademarked. You can even establish a proprietary right to the mark by using it in the market.
The same general principle is also applicable to copyrights. When the United States signed onto the Berne Convention in the late 80′s, it effectively agreed to see an author copyrighting his or her work as an automatic right. That means that, thanks to the Berne Convention, no registration is required to copyright something in the United States.
Guest post today courtesy of Kent E. Seton, founder and president of the Center for Nonprofit Creation.
If you are passionate about your nonprofit charity or business, branding your charity is an invaluable tool that can yield significant economic benefits. Some of the most well known nonprofits in the world, like United Way and the American Red Cross, are charitable entities that are just as well known as brands that do make a profit, like Coca Cola and Nike. How does a nonprofit translate into dollars and cents? Several companies, such as the American Red Cross, have brands so reputable that they license out their trademark to “for profit” enterprises. An example of this licensing in action is a seal of approval – if you go into a grocery store and see a Red Cross logo on a cosmetic item, it has been officially “certified” by the American Red Cross. Each time that product is sold, the American Red Cross earns a royalty. The American Red Cross generates a significant amount of revenue via this model.