Trademarks: Should I Worry About Using Them?

Yes! So often we may tempted to use trademarks, but when you things like “Super Bowl” or “March Madness” as blogger or business owner, you could be opening yourself up to a huge mess!

Should I Worry About Trademarks?

What Is A Trademarks Infringement?

Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services.

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office

What Do Companies Typically Trademark?

Most companies not only trademark their name, slogans, products, and, sometimes, even a color. Why do they do this to so much? Their goal is to stop their competition from confusing customers into purchasing with them by mistake and to preserve the brand they worked so hard to build.

What Should You Avoid?

You should never represent yourself, business or blog in a way that suggests you are affiliated or sponsored by the company unless you have been authorized to do so. Companies such as NFL, NBA, NCAA, and others make HUGE amounts of money by letting certain businesses or individuals be the official sponsor of that event. And if you are even slightly concerned about this DO NOT use trademarked a name.

What a Blogger Shouldn’t Do?

You would not want to name your cookies “Super Bowl” to describe your cookie recipes because you are not paying royalties or authorized to do so. So instead, consider naming that recipe ‘Football Cookies for The Big Game.’ Same is true for any brand Popsicle, crock pot, Kleenex, etc.

What About Product Reviews?

There are certain times you can use a trademarked name. This applies to nominative fair use doctrine, but there are many rules that apply.

The nominative use test essentially states that one party may use or refer to the trademark of another if:

  1. The product or service cannot be readily identified without using the trademark (e.g. trademark is descriptive of a person, place, or product attribute).
  2. The user only uses as much of the mark as is necessary for the identification (e.g. the words but not the font or symbol).
  3. The user does nothing to suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder. This applies even if the nominative use is commercial, and the same test applies for metatags.

Source: Wikipedia

An example would be you advertise that you ‘repair Ford trucks’ and that is okay because you are in no way saying you are in business with Ford Company. But if you were to advertise ‘Authorized Ford Repair Center’ and you didn’t have the rights to claim such you would be liable.

Another example is you are reviewing the latest iPad model. It would not be easily identifiable if you call it ‘tablet with touch screen.’ In this instance, you would have to use exact item name.

What Should You Do?

Sometimes it better to be safe than sorry later on. Personally, if I was writing a blog post on “Super Bowl” it might just be easier to call it The Big Game. As this article says it is all about the context in which you use it and in no way should it be used in a way where you make money.

We have a great example of what not to do with Fall Creek Baptist Church. In 2007, they decided to host a viewing party and they charged admission. Now mind you that admission was geared to recoup the cost of snacks, but the League claimed trademark infringement and threatened to sue. The church then decided they could fix the problem by not charging admission and making it free. But that did not fix the problem because the League complained that were planning on showing it on a screen larger than 55 inches. Needless to say, this became this church’s worst nightmare and the League only backed down once congress started to draft a new legislation.

These Companies Have Huge Law Staff and Money to Fight!

Never ever forget that these companies have huge law staff who would nothing better than to start legal action against you. They extremely eager to fight to protect their trademarks and sometimes the battle just is not worth it! I would much prefer to spend my time doing something else.

Don’t Forget to Pin this!

Should I Worry About Trademarks? What every blogger and business owner should be aware of!

Disclaimer:

Each and every country has its own trademark doctrines, and you should fully research them before publishing. I am not a lawyer or nor do I have any legal training and, because of that, I fully recommend doing your own research in this matter. I cannot be held liable for any damages resulting from this post.

This post is in no way sponsored by any of the mention companies or trademarks but is to serve as a warning for business owners and bloggers.

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