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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
I spoke with a U.S. trademark attorney the other day about registering my software name. I wanted to pass along some information he gave me.
YOU SHOULD REGISTER YOUR TRADEMARK
He said that even though you have "common law" trademark protection by just using the mark, that is limited to your local geographical area and does NOT apply to the internet. For example, if someone started using your trademark and put it up on their FaceBook business page and you contacted FaceBook about it, FaceBook would not have them take it down unless you had the mark registered.
My big concern was that I had one name for my software for years that I never registered. Then right when I thought to register it, I found someone else had JUST registered that name. I picked a new name but I was paranoid they could come after me for still using the name on existing software.
But he said they could not because my use predated their registration and would be grandfathered in as long as I did not expand that use. (By expand I assume he means start using it for additional/different products.)
Just thought I'd share since some of us have discussed trademarking our software on here before.
I know, but... it's really expensive and it takes a long time. And they make you register it for a specific use, charging you more if you want to expand it to other areas.
The entire system is neither small business friendly nor affordable (and don't get me started on patents).
Saturday, March 07, 2015
By the way, you can also register your marks with the state.
It's not a substitute for full (R) protection, but a) it's cheap and usually perpetual, b) it's admissiable as usage, and c) if they ever want to setup shop in or do business in your state, you can really screw with them.
Also be sure to use the (TM) for unregistered marks. Again, not a substitute for (R), but it sends out a clear signal. I also think it carries some SEO weight in Google as they more and more prefer brands. Nothing says "brand" like TM and R
Saturday, March 07, 2015
It's not that expensive really. Registering your Trade Mark for the USA, the EU, Switzerland and Norway would be around 2000 Euros for 10 years of protection.
If you felt like it you could add Rusfed and China to that for another ~500 Euros but imho that's just wasted money as those markets suck for software. And good luck suing infront of a Chinese or Russian court for damages.
The problem is that the marks are very, very narrowly defined. And each category will cost you another $225/yr.
You don't get to use your mark for developing all kinds of software applications. Rather, protection for your mark will be limited to something incredibly specific like, "software>encryption>industrial>printing>ink mixing software> software that mixes red-with-green"
For small software companies with multiple products, it can be very expensive to cover the true breadth of your mark.
We happen to have 8 marks.
Generally though -- in my practical experience -- if you can acquire the .com domain for your mark, you're probably in a good position to control it. Nobody will want to invest in promoting a trademark without controlling .com
Monday, March 09, 2015
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