Ask @RetailPhil: Do I Need a Trademark (TM) logo?
Imagine there’s an industry community who’s ready to help you answer your toughest questions about retail. You can count on Hubba! Hubba’s very own @Retailphil recently got asked about intellectual property:
“I found a product on Alibaba that was using my images but selling at half of my cost.”
We asked our Community to help with this discussion and compiled answers from our circle of expert brands so you can learn from people on the ground working to solve similar problems. Obviously when it comes to intellectual property, consulting a lawyer is imperative and these suggestions are meant to act solely as a starting point.
Question: What are basic steps to take to make sure I’m protected from copies or “knock-offs”?
Answer: Unfortunately, anything can be knocked off by others. The best way to protect yourself is:
- Register Trade Marks! Not only can you do this for your company name, but you can also easily do this with the product name by adding a simple ™ on the product name.
- Make sure every public document for marketing has the ™ or ® showing and © on any verbiage used anywhere.
- Make it clear (i.e. on your website) which retailers are authorized stockists of your brand and product.
- The other way is to patent the product which can be easier said than done and costly to do. But it’s worth it to meet with a patent lawyer and see if it is a viable possibility.
- Keep all intellectual property close to you and allow only authorized staff access to it. They must also sign a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement for life) before they are able to have access to any of the intellectual property.
Question: What can I do when I find “knock-offs”?
Answer: There are several steps you can take:
- If someone is using your assets there is action you can take, for example, having a lawyer send a notice to cease and desist.
- Usually, a cease and desist letter works well enough and the knock-offs are pulled (assuming you have your trademark registered).
- Have a great trademark lawyer on retainer to monitor, track and follow-up on these issues.
- If the above doesn’t help, have your attorney proceed legally against them.
Question: Are there other things that I can do to protect myself?
Answer: There are organizations that can help with tracking and calling out knock-offs. VerifiR is a great one.
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