Small business owners should be particularly knowledgeable about trademark and copyright issues. They need to protect themselves and their brand, while also being aware of infringing on other business brands. Let’s look at the small brewery as an example. With so many small breweries entering business, there are many potential legal issues that could arise. The name of the company, the company logo, slogans, product name, label design, and recipes are all areas of concern for the boutique brewer, especially in the area of infringement.
There are several liabilities in regard to trademarks, copyright, and fair use for the small brewery. A small business owner could start on their own by searching Google, beer community websites, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark website (http://www.uspto.gov/), but you should definitely consider hiring an attorney for thorough guidance and accurate completion of the steps to protect the brand and the business.
The name of a company and its various brews can be protected by trademark. These trademarks represent the brewery’s goodwill. This is the connection customers make with the quality of a product, a level of quality they will come to expect over time. This relationship between company and customer is an invaluable asset that should be protected. Moreover, these trademarks are assets that build wealth in the business and may be sold.
It is best to apply for a trademark early on, even if you aren’t actively using it yet. You only need to have a good-faith intent to use it in the future. If you do this, your rights are backdated to the time you applied for trademark, not the date you began using it. This is how the large companies do it; it’s in your best interest to do the same.
Your trademarks should be distinctive words, phrases, pictures, or symbols. Terms involving geographic location, type of product, or other general terms are more difficult to protect and more likely to cause problems. You must verify your brand is available and not taken by someone else. These days it is crucial to compare your brand idea with companies outside the beer industry as well. There have been disputes between beer, tea, energy drink, and soft drink businesses. Another consideration is that breweries are expanding overseas. If you want protection overseas there are different processes involved. A US Trademark does not provide protection in foreign markets, so it becomes important to consider foreign trademark registration. Your rights are limited without it. By taking the necessary steps up front, your brewery can enjoy ownership and promotion of your brand throughout the life of your business.
The intellectual property of your brewery is its greatest asset, and it is critical to your success that you protect this part of your business. Let the law work to your advantage. Call me today to ensure you take the appropriate steps to protect your business and your brand. (888) 666-0062 or online at https://jhrlegal.com/find-us/.