T-Shirt Forums banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
Im currently in the process of starting a clothing litne. I have a name picked out, logo, EIN, as well as a tax permit. I have a few designs that i would like test out in the field. I did a 'poor-man's copyright' but I am wondering when is an actual good time to aquire a trademark registration. Does anyone know how long you can operate your line before you should trademark it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,680 Posts
I did a 'poor-man's copyright'
Poor man's copyright doesn't hold up in court, it's basically useless.

But designs are considered copyrighted once they are in fixed form. So even if you do not apply for copyright, you can still try to protect your designs from infringement by proving you did it first.

If you do choose to copyright your designs, it costs $35 per design, and can be submitted at U.S. Copyright Office. But you can also put all your designs in a book, and copyright the book, so that all designs are protected under one submission.

To trademark your logo or brand name, it costs $275-325, and can be submitted at United States Patent and Trademark Office. Once you start using your mark in commerce, you gain common law trademark. So again, you can still try to protect your marks even without submitting it. But federal registration offers a more defined protection against infringement.

but I am wondering when is an actual good time to aquire a trademark registration.
Personally, I think the best time is when you can afford it. Trademark registration is important to your brand, but as a startup, it should not take away from more important areas such as production and marketing. If you have room in your budget, register now. If you need to use your budget on other areas, do that, and register later on when you can afford to budget for that expense.

Does anyone know how long you can operate your line before you should trademark it?
You can operate forever if you want. It is not mandatory to trademark your logo or brand name.

A big aspect of registering your trademark is enforcing it. So unless you are prepared to fend off infringement by sending cease and desist letters and filing lawsuits, your registration won't be of any use anyway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Poor man's copyright doesn't hold up in court, it's basically useless.
Thank you for the very informative reply. Not very comforting knowing that the poor man's copyright offers NO protection. I did ask my buddy whom stay out of state to send me a money order for the purchase of a shirt. Do you think that offers any protection???
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I would like to protect the name and slogan of my line, at the least. I worry that if I come out with my line locally due to the lack of funds, can a large company come in and make claims on my brand if there's no trademark registration in place?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,680 Posts
Brand names and slogans are protected by trademark, not copyright. Once you start using your name in commerce (develop a website, market your brand, sell shirts to customers) you will start gaining common law trademark. So at the very least, you will be able to defend your mark by proving you were using it before another company started using it. Which is what you would have to do anyway if you registered it, but you just won't have the federal registration to lean on.

A company can come along and make a claim whether you have a trademark registration or not. You can't control what other companies do. But if you ever got into this type of situation, whoever used the mark in commerce first will win. It doesn't matter the size of the companies or how much money the companies have. First in commerce will win the rights to the mark. A good example is the WWF. The World Wrestling Federation used that mark for years. Then the World Wide Fund came along and were able to prove they used it first. Well, it's called World Wrestling Entertainment now.

But realistically, this is probably something you won't have to deal with. Big companies spend big dollars on researching and developing their brands and products. It would be a stupid risk for a big company to try to launch a brand that already exists when they can just launch a brand that is original. The attorneys for these companies would advise them not to infringe on an existing mark because they know they will lose all their research and development time and money after losing the infringement lawsuit. If they really wanted your brand name so bad, it would actually be cheaper just to make an offer to acquire your brand.

Personally, I think your time is much better spent on sales and marketing than worrying about protecting your brand.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
But realistically, this is probably something you won't have to deal with. Big companies spend big dollars on researching and developing their brands and products. It would be a stupid risk for a big company to try to launch a brand that already exists when they can just launch a brand that is original. The attorneys for these companies would advise them not to infringe on an existing mark because they know they will lose all their research and development time and money after losing the infringement lawsuit. If they really wanted your brand name so bad, it would actually be cheaper just to make an offer to acquire your brand.

Personally, I think your time is much better spent on sales and marketing than worrying about protecting your brand.
Thanks for the advice. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Wanted to bump this up and offer a different spin on the same question. I am in the same place as the original author, started company, have slogan, etc. For the record, I am going to trademark my slogan up front.

I was curious if there was a way to trademark an underlying design formula for apparel. By this I mean that all of my designs (at least at first) will look the same in concept, but contain different sub elements. For example, all shirts may have height, weigth, and age element, always in the same place on the shirt so that the design aspect of it will look the same no matter what, but the underlying information will differ from shirt to shirt. My end goal is that when someone sees the shirt, they know its my brand because of the design scheme... and the patented slogan on the sleeve/back :)

I looked on the USPO website and it does mention trademarking designs, but I was curious if anyone out there (kimura-mma???) has any advice/experience in the matter.

Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,680 Posts
For the record, I am going to trademark my slogan up front.
Slogans can sometimes be difficult to trademark for use on clothing. If the slogan is your brand name, that should be ok. But if not, it could take some time before you can get it approved.

I was curious if there was a way to trademark an underlying design formula for apparel.
Trademarks are typically for brand names and logos, not designs. So as far as I know, design ideas, concepts, formulas, etc, cannot be trademarked either.

Designs are typically eligible for copyright. But when you register a design with the copyright office, your ownership is on the exact design, not the entire concept or formula.

My end goal is that when someone sees the shirt, they know its my brand because of the design scheme...
I think it's great to be consistent through your products and branding. But I don't think you will be able to legally and exclusively own the entire design concept. Which is ok, because you really don't have to in order to accomplish what you want. To make sure though, it's probably a good idea to consult an intellectual property attorney and get a professional legal opinion.

and the patented slogan on the sleeve/back
Slogans, when eligible, can be trademarked, not patented.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top