Intellectual Property Law Services in Westphalia, KS
Can you protect your username / handle on social media?
You’ve spent hours building your brand on social media. Protect your Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, and Twitter handles by registering the username with the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"). If you are successful in registering your social media username, you will be establishing its role alongside your brand. This can help prevent others from exploiting your reputation and the goodwill you have built up through commercial use of your username.
Social media handles are eligible for Westphalia trademark protection if they are used in connection with the goods or services you offer. This means that the handle must be distinctive and not merely descriptive of the goods or services you offer.
Treat your username or handle as a brand name and ensure that you are able to use it in commerce. This process begins with a trademark search, and if successful, a trademark registration application. This will ensure that no one else is using your name in an area of commerce that is similar to yours and prevent consumer confusion and diversion of sales. Axenfeld Law offers a full suite of services to help build, protect, and enforce your brand. This includes thorough assessment of your brand and the development of a strategy to protect your social media business.
Does copyright law protect my photos posted on social media?
U.S. copyright law protects creative works, and photos posted on social media are no exception. The Copyright Act protects photos posted to websites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but only if the images meet the minimum creativity requirements, are original, and are fixed in a tangible means of expression. When a photographer captures a photograph, they make creative decisions as to the subject matter, lighting, exposure, focus, etc., which typically satisfies both the creativity and originality requirements. Photographs taken with a phone or digital camera meet the fixation requirement when it is recorded or stored in a format that can be preserved and retrieved for future use, display, reproduction, or other commercial exploitation.
What is a Cease-and-Desist Letter?
A cease-and-desist letter is typically the first step in protecting your Westphalia, KS trademark rights once you determine that a third party is using your mark without authorization. The purpose of a cease-and-desist letter is to alert an unauthorized user to your trademark rights and ask the unauthorized user to cease their infringement. It also typically puts the alleged infringer on notice that if they do not stop their unauthorized use, they may face further legal action, such as a lawsuit.
While this letter does not need to be prepared by an attorney, a trademark attorney can help you craft a compelling letter, detailing all of the legal and factual bases for your demand. Furthermore, an unauthorized user is more likely to respond favorably to a letter from an experienced attorney. When successful in getting the alleged infringer to cease their unauthorized use of a mark, demand letters are the most cost effective and efficient way to resolve a trademark dispute.
What if someone posted my photo and removed my Westphalia copyright information?
“Copyright Management Information” (or CMI) includes the identifying information about a work’s copyright owner, among other things. Digital Millennium Copyright Act created a separate prohibition from knowingly removing or altering Copyright Management Information. If someone has knowingly removed your watermark, the title of the artwork, the year it was created, your name, or certain other identifying information from your photo before posting it to social media, you may have a cause of action against that person. The key is that the other person must have known, or had reason to know, that their actions would induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal an infringement. The attorneys at Axenfeld Law can assess your options and determine the best course of conduct to enforce your rights.
Westphalia, KS Trademark Trends
Recent trademark registration trends have seen an increase in the number of trademark applications filed, especially in the areas of technology (Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, and NFTs), entertainment, and fashion. Additionally, there has been a rise in the use of trademark protection for colors, sounds and scent marks, as well as in the registration of trademarks for cannabis-related goods and services. Furthermore, with the growth of e-commerce and the increasing use of social media for business purposes, there has been a rise in the number of trademarks being filed for logos, taglines, and hashtags. However, there has also been an increase in the number of rejections and objections being raised during the trademark examination process, particularly for marks that are deemed descriptive or generic.
Someone stole my brand, what can a Westphalia trademark attorney do to help me?
If you discover that someone is using your brand without authorization, there are a number of steps you can take to protect your rights. While each situation is nuanced, typically the first step is to send a demand letter (also known as a cease-and-desist letter). The purpose of a demand letter is to alert an unauthorized user to your trademark rights and ask the unauthorized user to cease their infringement. A trademark attorney can help you craft a compelling letter, detailing all of the legal and factual bases for your demand.
Demand letters are the most cost effective and efficient way to resolve a trademark dispute. However, in some cases, the unauthorized user may ignore the letter or simply refuse to cease their unauthorized use of your trademark. In this instance, the next step is to consider whether to file a lawsuit. Because there are many factors to consider when deciding to file a lawsuit, such as cost and potential outcomes, it is important to speak with an experienced trademark attorney for guidance.
While trademarks are the subject of both federal and state law, federal law provides the main source of trademark protection. As a result, working with an attorney who specializes in trademark law is generally more beneficial than working with an attorney who practices in a certain state but who has less familiarity with trademarks.
Axenfeld Law Group, an intellectual property firm that specializes in trademark matters, is here to help you enforce your trademark rights. Robert Axenfeld is currently licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, and regularly handles trademark matters before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) and federal courts.