Less than a month ago, I was reading one of my favourite blogs (Smart Passive Income) and I read a post that I felt I really related to (well not entirely but I’ll explain that soon.)
I was reading Pat Flynn’s May 2012 monthly income report (always amazing) and within his post he said that Smart Passive Income had officially become a registered trademark.
Besides his openness and incredible profit making talent, this made me gain even more respect for him. This move simply showed he was super serious about his blog and what he was doing and wanted to take it to the next level.
So what’s so special about a trademark?
To tell you just how special and important it is, I have to tell you a story. It’s not related to blogging or online marketing so bare with me. It’s something that happened to my older brother Charlie, a little over a year ago but first I have to go back to the beginning.
About three years ago (2009), Charlie (who was 25 at the time) decided with his friend to start a business. What he did was import quality furniture and electronics from around the world at a reasonably low price and then sells them to shop owners and other businesses for profit. The name of their business was “Green Vine Trading.”
In about a year and a half, they had managed to do extremely well and even open two of their own stores to sell directly to consumers. Everything was going well until he started to get calls from people claiming they were ripped off and that their electronics they bought from his store were fakes.
This would have seriously worried him if those people hadn’t said that they were from nearby town, which he hadn’t even expanded to! It turns out another business was using a similar name “Green Vine Investments” and people automatically thought it was related to Charlie’s.
So immediately after that they decided to register Green Vine as a trademark and sent notice to the owner of the other business who surprisingly changed their name without a fight. (I guess they probably knew it was going to happen… who knows?)
Trademark, Copyright, Patent what’s the difference?
I’m sorry but I might have to get a bit boring here. These are the three main types of intellectual property law.
Patents: Protect ideas and inventions.
Copyright: Protect artistic expressions like music, movies photos and literature.
Trademarks: Protect any “mark” associated with a business like names and logos.
There is a lot of confusion between copyrights and trademarks because they often overlap especially when it comes to dealing with logos i.e. an image used as a company logo can also be protected by copyright.
The main goal of a trademark is to prevent any confusion in the business world. A trademark prohibits the use of any marks that would cause any sort of confusion. These can be:
· Business names
· Product names
· Colors (yes… you read right)
· Shapes of goods
Really anything that is capable of distinguishing one business from another.
NOTE: Companies can have the same names as long as they don’t deal in the same business. E.g. Delta is both an airline and faucet making company.
What does this mean for your blog?
If you’re like 98% of the bloggers on earth then you would probably either want to monetize your site or you already have. Whether it’s through selling ad space, using Adsense, promoting affiliate products or coming up with your own, making a reasonable income is probably one of your goals. You would want to make it a business. Building your brand would be another important goal.
You would want people to know your brand and associate it with quality especially when you release your own products like eBooks, audio seminars, training videos, training programs or software. You would want them to immediately recognize that it actually did come from you and not confuse you with someone else. You would need that protection. Trademarks provide that.
In the example I gave with Charlie, another company had a similar name and where dealing in basically the same products. This caused confusion with customers and was in some way affecting the reputation of his business.
Think about this. You run a blog about gardening for example and you called it Garden Maniacs. You write a really awesome book about the secrets to growing bigger, juicier vegetables faster and you want to sell it. You call it “The Garden Maniacs Guide to Bigger, Juicier Vegetables.” Then someone else releases a similar book called “The Garden Maniacs Guide to Gardening” using a similar logo that’s low quality and the content sucks. You’ve got a problem right?
When people get the other book and realize that it’s full of garbage, the next time they see your book, they won’t even give it a second look. They will be preprogrammed to hate you products and you will lose sales.
Also, another dark side is that people could be piggybacking on your name to help them get more business. If they ruin your reputation along the way, they don’t lose out.
Other Advantages of Trademarking Your Blog
· Gives you the right to sue people infringing your trademark.
· Allows law enforcement agencies to take action against people counterfeiting your trademark without permission
How You Can Do It
You can get an attorney to do it for you but this might cost you extra. You can also do it yourself by going to your local Trademark and Patent Office.
NOTE: If you live in the US you can visit the US Patent and Trademark Office Website.
Do You Really Need?
Well, it’s not a must but once your blog really takes off, you should at least consider it. If it’s probably bringing you on average high 6+ figures a year and you release a lot of products, I would recommend it. It gives you the protection you need.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or in any way an expert in law (I’m just a blogger :) ). Any advice given should be taken as such.