Business, Guest Blog, Social Media

Intellectual Property Review, by Guest Blogger Anthony M. Verna III

One issue I see when a business takes itself from the idea stage to doing business in the real world is a lack of intellectual property review.

This can be seen in either taking out a Facebook page or a domain name in either the business name or a proposed product name.    While this is a good idea, to just do it without understanding possible ramifications in either intellectual property or advertising law is a problem.

What is a Trademark?
A trademark is any set of words or a design that identifies goods or services with a particular origin.  This origin is usually the company that makes the goods or provides the services.  The goods or services are marked to show the quality of the origin. For example, certain types of colas taste differently. The name on the package brings to mind the taste right away.

Why do I need my trademarks reviewed?
This is a business asset that is now used in interstate commerce, especially if a website, Facebook, or Twitter is used to help promote the brand.  Federal trademark law allows for damages should one trademark infringe another – even innocently.  From a defensive standpoint, you want your business to have as different of a brand and trademark as possible.  From an offensive standpoint, you want to be able to enforce your business’ mark as much as possible.  You want to reduce exposure from liability to your business, and a review of all trademarks in order to avoid others is paramount.

Quite often, businesses want to engage customers or clients in social media campaigns.  This can come in many forms. If a business wants user-made videos:

  • it must ask if it is getting proper permission from those customers to use the copyright in the video;
  • it must ask if it is getting proper permission from those customers to use the customers’ images in the video;
  • it must review federal regulations.

If the business is engaging with blogs, it must review federal regulations.

Is there a copyright in a user-made video?
Yes, there is.  There is a copyright in any idea that is fixed to a medium.  In this case, the medium is the digital file and the idea comes from the thoughts expressed in the video.

Why does my business need permission?
Without permission for the copyright or the customers’ images, use of both infringes the rights of the owners and exposes the business to liability.

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Anthony M. Verna III is a partner at Kravitz & Verna LLC.  You can contact him by emailing:  averna@kravitzverna.com

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