The Internet is the Wild, Wild West. It's so easy to have your trademark or copyright used without your permission. Most of the time, people don’t even realize that what they’re doing is wrong. Imitation is flattery … right?
Errr … wrong. But what can you do about it? How can you protect yourself from digital predators? Follow the steps below, protect yourself, and ease your worries.
Ensure that your brand is unique.
In order to receive legal protection for your trademark or copyright protection for your original works, your intellectual property must be unique.
A trademark protects a name, mark, or logo that is used in connection with a good or service sold in commerce and identifies the source of the good or service. Trademarks may not be so similar that they are likely to create consumer confusion as to the original source of the good or service.
Copyright is a legal protection that extends to original works that are created in a fixed, tangible form. This includes books, poems, painting, photographs, sound recordings, videos and more.
When you create intellectual property, make sure it is your own!
Protect your intellectual property.
The more legal protection you can arm your business with, the better off you’ll be. By far, this is the best way to protect what is rightfully yours. Find yourself a good copyright and trademark attorney and let them handle the rest.
There are many benefits to trademark and copyright registration including public record of your ownership, as well as statutory damages and attorneys fees, if you win your case.
Send a cease and desist letter, if necessary.
If someone is using your trademark or copying your original work without your permission, you can send them a cease and desist letter. Depending on the party, your goals, and your appetite for a potential lawsuit, these letters can be worded softly or sternly. Your letter should be drafted in a very strategic manner.
Important: Don’t send this letter without first consulting an attorney to ensure the wording is correct and the ramifications are possible.
Hopefully, after the cease and desist letter is sent, the other party will comply with your demands and stop using your IP without your permission. However, if they do not, proceed carefully with an attorney to determine next steps.
It is important to remember that you have created your brand from scratch. You have worked hard for your business and only your have rights over your intellectual property. If someone violates these rights by using your IP without your authorization, you may have legal remedies available to you.
Do not publicize IP infringement without consulting an attorney first.
There may be a good reason to let your audience know about copyright, trademark, or patent infringement that was committed against your business, but doing so may also create unneeded drama.
Consider elevating your brand by NOT talking about infringement on your IP on your social media channels. Hold yourself to a higher standard, and stay in your lane. Continue to provide superior service, awesome content, and fantastic products.
Before going public, consult your attorney.