Some Scary Things in IP Law
By J. Nevin Shaffer, Jr.
It seems more and more that when I meet with clients, I am spending a lot of time explaining that the law is illogical and, therefore, down right scary! I suppose that’s why there are law schools! Here is a list of things I am told that send shivers down my spine:
“I registered my company name with the county, so I don’t need another trademark registration.” Wrong! These are different bureaucrats. One is interested in making sure the tax bill gets to the right person and the other is for getting an asset that will last until the end of time, a registered brand. Boo Ya!
“I paid for the ad so I own it!” Wrong! This nuance of copyright law explains why Bill Gates was the richest man in the world. (He’s now only number 2.) As an independent contractor, he owned the copyright to the original work he was paid to create! How scary is that!
“I know I have picked the perfect brand because it describes my product exactly.” Wrong! Because you use trademark brands descriptively so you assume, logically, a good brand is descriptive. You can pick any word, symbol or slogan you want, but you can not register them if they are descriptive. APPLE for computers= GOOD! APPLE for fruit= BOO HOO BAD!
“I want to copyright this idea so no one else can copy it!” No way! Copyrights protect only the expression of an original idea NOT the idea itself. The idea for fast food is free to anyone; you just can’t call yourself MCDONALDS! A very scary thought, indeed.
“I have contacted an invention development company I saw on TV, and they say they like my idea! Should I deal with them?” NO! They are in the flattery business. They have never seen an idea they didn’t like because they could care less about your idea. They are patting you on the back with one hand while they dig around for your wallet with the other. My advice: Run for your life and save your retirement funds for something else!
Copyright 2007 Nevin Shaffer. All rights reserved and I have a big dog that will chew your arm off if you copy this! Contact Nevin at 850-934-4124, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his web site at www.nevinshaffer.com.