When there’s something strange in your business hood…who ya gonna call…..Ingram Law.

I bet you didn’t read the headline or the first line of this post, I’m pretty sure you sang it like a giant walking marshmallow. Well the interesting thing about this and millions of other tunes, images and logos is that they may be trademarked and/or copyright protected but that may not do much for them.

In today’s media world people can make a meme or image in the blink of an eye. They can hum an ear worm that you can’t get out of your head (kind of like the one I just used here) and the company who originally created them may have a hard time doing anything about it.

Some of the concern may be with who is using the protected item and in what market. The mouse in Florida would probably have a problem if I used the ears as my own logo no matter my industry or location. But would be just fine with sharing it with me for a fee and getting credit for it. The same thing goes for songs and music. Not all things are protected by copyright but if it is a world famous song that everyone knows, they may try harder to make sure they get credit for it, you’d hate to end up in a ring of fire for not giving credit where credit is due.

So what do you do if you aren’t Johnny or the Mouse but you want to protect your mark or idea.

Copyright and trademark may be your answer. But you really have to do a cost unfit analysis of taking that step. I am a firm believer in the more legal protection you can get the better but the reality of your situation may that you don’t have the time or energy or money to not only register your mark or copyright but also to police the market to make sure it is not being misused or abused by a competitor or someone else in the market.

If you are a brand that is going nation- or world-wide and will be easily recognizable (the mouse) then the investment will return to you tenfold to protect your business, brand, message and marketing. But if you plan on staying in a local market with little other competition or you have little fear of the mark or copyright being stolen you may be able to do other things that are more cost effective.

So if you are going to be bigger than a local mom and pop, so a regional, state, national, international brand, I would recommend taking the leap and hiring an attorney to visit the USPTO for you and get your brands protected.

If you are a local brand that plans to stay local, there are a few things you can do.

  1. Set a google alert for the name, tag line or brand you are trying to protect. If someone uses it or posts about it, you’ll know. If that happens contact your attorney (Ingram Law) and have a cease and desist sent out.
  2. Monitor social media and your competitors. See what they’re doing and how close they are to you and your concept, if they get to close send a cease and desist.
  3. Add language to your marketing that you are the original, the first, the creator, etc. so that the world knows this was your idea.
  4. If you continue to get copied or your idea seems to be growing without you, then it is time to consult with an attorney (Ingram Law) and register your marks and ideas.

Trademark and copyright are areas of the law that are intense and simple all at the same time. Not every mark can be trademarked, not every idea can be copyrighted, but those that can be should be and the process can be simplified with the help of an attorney.

Who ya gonna call…..Ingram Law