One sentence BIG IDEA:
4 Reasons marketers need to pay attention to trademarks, copyrights and patents
Why is this relevant to marketers?
Intellectual property protection can make or break your marketing efforts, whether you are an agency-side or brand-side marketer.
On the agency side, it is easy to assume that it is a client’s responsibility to handle all issues related to intellectual property. For brand marketers, you might assume intellectual property protection is a legal or operational-level issue. In both cases, marketers can serve an important role in supporting intellectual property decisions. It not only makes us more valuable as marketers, but it also improves marketing campaigns.
Below are four reasons marketers need to pay attention to trademarks, copyrights and patents.*
1) Intellectual property protection defines your marketing message.
Without a trademark or patent, you run the risk of promoting something as “unique,” “the only,” or “the first,” when it in fact might not be. We have a client who has created a great design for a product, but they have not applied for a patent. We have no way of verifying if anyone else is using the design. We want to promote the design as new to the market, but we cannot verify if it is unique without a patent. It takes the punch out of news releases and messaging when you cannot make definitive statements about a product or service. 2) Your marketing campaign might infringe without you knowing it.
Without intellectual property protection, you run the risk that your marketing campaign might infringe on someone else’s property rights without knowing it. Even if you are “first to market” with a concept, it doesn’t mean you own it. What usually matters most is who went to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and filed first. Internet searches can only get you so far in determining the intellectual property has been used. People can file for an “intent to use” application, which allows them to be first to protect content without the intellectual property being visible in the market. If your marketing campaign hinges on a specific trademark, servicemark, copyrighted or patented information, start with a clearance search as a first step to avoid infringing on someone else’s property.
3) Your marketing campaign might be unique, but not unique enough.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office protects intellectual property from conflicting uses. This means that you may come up with a mark that conflicts with a registered mark even if the same words are not used. The example the USPTO gives is the use of the mark “Wolf” conflicts with the use of the mark “Lupo,” which is the Italian word for “wolf.” These marks are considered confusingly similar even though they are different words. 4) Intellectual property protection dictates marketing campaign timelines.
Filing for intellectual property protection is not a quick process. Before you build a timeline for a marketing campaign, factor in how long it will take to obtain intellectual property protection. Before you tee up that news release or hit send on an email newsletter, realize that it takes months to receive approval for the use of a mark.
Challenge for Marketers:
Do an audit of your projects and your client accounts to see what intellectual property you or your clients might need to protect.
Consult with an attorney to evaluate your intellectual property protection strategy.
Protect intellectual property by registering your marks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
*This content in no way provides legal advice. Hire an attorney.