We often think about protecting our own brands with trademarks. In today’s blog post Attorney, Dick Troll talks about protecting yourself from what he calls “Trademark Bullies”
Running a business is exhilarating, frustrating, challenging, exhausting or perhaps most accurately ALL OF THE ABOVE. Every day in business means a day of decisions.
One of the most important decisions every business must make is:What do we call ourselves? Or “What should we call our new super widget?” All too often these decisions are made without considering all the variables. And frankly, most of the time it doesn’t matter. The company name is fine. The name for the new widget is fine.
But sometimes, it can be a nightmare. Just ask the owner of the BEARCAT restaurant in nearby Cincinnati. Been in business for many years. Loyal supporter of UC. But that did not stop the University from demanding that he change his name.
Most business owners would identify themselves as an entrepreneur. Well be careful how you use the term because the owner of the registered trademark ENTREPRENEUR has been making life miserable for his own potential customers. Go figure. These David against Goliath battles have long been part of the commercial landscape. But it seems that today large brand owners can be persuaded to use bullying tactics even when they don’t have a legal leg to stand on.
So what can you do? In the old days not much. David would quickly settle with Goliath. On terms that only Goliath liked. But some brave businesses have used the power of social media to push back. They publish the sometimes-hilarious letters sent by over the top brand owners. They plead their case on Facebook and Twitter. Suddenly the big brand owner is on the defensive. Bombarded by bad publicity and irate customers some big brand owners have conceded defeat. Is it a perfect strategy? Nope. However, sometimes it can be very effective.
BTW if your business is planning to capitalize on the big, big game that will be held in our town next February, better steer very clear of the term SUPER BOWL The NFL will not be amused.