Protecting Your Trademark
By Jean Perwin
Design-related legal, copyright, trademark, or intellectual property rights confusion? NoD guest author and legal expert Jean S. Perwin is taking questions. If you have questions for Jean, email them to us using editor (at) notesondesign.net. Jean will reply to questions frequently here under the “Intellectual Property” category of NoD.
I live in TN and in 2004 created my own freelance graphic design company. I did research on the name that I chose and found nothing similar. This weekend, I started checking around and now found one lady who has named her “craft” company/blog Blue Cricket Designs and another graphic design website. Should I as a sole proprietor invest in the $325 trademark filing fee? Most of my work is located in the state of TN, but it irritates me because of all the work that I put into my name. The irritation was especially apparent when the craft blog lady refused to stop using the name. She creates cards and other things that could become confused with what i do. Any advice would be helpful.
Thanks from a frustrated freelancer!
Sherri G Pugh
In my view, it is always worth filing a trademark application for your name and logo whether you are a sole proprietorship or a large company especially if you are doing a lot of work online. Your situation proves the point. If you had registered Blue Cricket Designs before the craft lady began using the same name, it would be a simple matter to make her stop. As you saw, without the registration, it’s more difficult. But, it’s not impossible. You still have rights in the name if you were the first to use it. But, you would need to consult a trademark lawyer about the strength of your position. I would not recommend that you file for the trademark yourself, though. The process is long and sometimes complicated and the initial filing is only one small part of the process and the filing fee is only one small portion of the cost.