Whether you are an artist, manager, agent or entrepreneur, one subject that requires an immense amount of attention is intellectual property. Most people are under the impression that registering a copyright, trademark or patent is a difficult process, but with some help from your attorney and as basic understanding of IP, your property can be protected quite easily. In order to teach you a few tricks and get your IP properly secured, I interviewed attorney Keith Hackenberg, who specializes in intellectual property.
So let’s say you are a manager and you have just developed your first management company. After a great deal of debate you develop a name for your company, but what you probably haven’t thought about is the availability of that name. An easy way to check the status of your name is to run a trademark search on USPTO.gov. Mr. Hackenberg pointed out that one of the most important issues to keep in mind when using an attorney is that time is money. The last situation you want to be in is to go to your attorney and get billed, only to find out that the mark you want to register is not even available.
The next decision you will have to make is whether you want your trademark to be registered in your state or federally. Mr. Hackenberg informed me that 95% of the time he recommends registering a trademark federally. By doing so this allows you to partake in interstate commerce and also gives you the ability to collect statutory damages, if infringement occurs. The only instance in which you might consider registering your trademark with the state is if you are a local business, with no plans for expansion. For those of you who have a logo but have failed to register it, fear not. Mr. Hackenberg explained to me that even if a name or logo has yet to be registered, it still has the ability to bear the TM stamp. By placing this mark on your logo you are informing consumers that this is a trademark and part of your brand.
For those of you who are artists, you may be questioning the process associated with registering a copyright. First, take a trip to Copyright.gov and head to the forms section. From here you will see a form called the CO Form, simply click on the download link and the form should open. What you are now viewing is the standard catchall form for every type of copyright currently available. Mr. Hackenberg recommends that you look through the form and get a general idea of the information it asks for. After you realize you have all the information necessary to complete the form, you should then hire an attorney. According to Mr. Hackenberg, hiring an attorney is a solid investment when filing a copyright because it ensures that the documents are going to be filled out correctly and completely.
I know many of you are tech savvy and are probably saying to yourself, “I think I will just go to legalzoom.com.” According to Mr. Hackenberg, this is the worst decision you could make, when attempting to register a trademark, patent or copyright. The reason being that when you register through Legal Zoom all you receive in return for your cash is a piece of paper. The benefit of using an attorney is the counsel, expertise and personal face-to-face connection you receive. Mr. Hackenberg also pointed out that if you experience a problem when registering IP through Legal Zoom, there is no one to give you advice. When using an attorney, he or she will look at the problem, analyze it and then point you in the right direction.
I encourage everyone to take matters into your own hands and take the time to protect yourself by registering your intellectual property. The process may seem intimidating, but I hope that through this blog you have come to the realization that registration is actually quite easy. As always, Stay Fresh My Friends: DJ Dolph.
Thank You to:
Keith D. Hackenberg
IP, Trademark, and Copyright Law
Levy & Associates, P.A.