Many years ago I watched the international thrashing over who owns which domain name, especially the World Intellectual Property Organisation involvement, with great trepidation. Then I got into various legal scuffles with large corporations like Southwestern Bell and Porsche and decided that the time had come for me to lock down ownership of my own intellectual property.
Most entertaining was my legal dispute with the litigious Tommy HIlfiger, but that’s a story for another blog entry (or, better, a more amusing story to be told in person).
As a result I applied for and ultimately received a registered trademark (well, service mark) for the domain name intuitive.com. Yes, that should properly be written as “intuitive.com®”.
A year or two ago as I watched Ask Dave Taylor.com really take off and become a popular, successful site, I decided I would seek to trademark the Ask Dave Taylor brand too.
This week I received notification from the US Patent and Trademark Office that I’d been awarded just that, and now if you look on the site you’ll see that it’s “Ask Dave Taylor®”.
What I realized when looking at the legal documents from the USPTO is that precious few people – particularly in the entrepreneurial space – have seen a trademark award document…
First off, the cool logo of the USPTO:
Then the “small print” that explains what a trademark is and highlights that you have to enforce it for it to have any meaning legally:
Notice that even if continued use proof is filed, a trademark is generally only good for a decade, as detailed in the last paragraph above.
The previous is printed on nice parchment. The actual service mark or trademark itself? That’s just on a piece of regular printer paper, but it does have the key information that’s lacking in the generic materials:
You can see here that we filed our initial service mark application in July 24, 2008 and it was awarded on April 7, 2009. Elapsed time? About nine months. Not too bad, all in all.
Is a trademark or service mark right for you or your business? I can’t say. But for me, I like the additional legal protection this award offers my company.