I’ve just been reading about Turner Barr, the creator of AroundtheWorldin80Jobs.com, a site and web series about his experiences of working his way around the world.
I was appalled to read, in his latest blog post, that his “entire brand, image and web personality was swiped for use in a marketing campaign by some massive multi-billion dollar a year company, without ever being asked for permission or acknowledged“.
The main problem seems to be that Turner didn’t trademark his identity / branding – and the corporate did. As he mentions in his blog post, this isn’t an isolated case.
I was so shocked by this brand swiping that I posted the link on the Introverts In Business Facebook page – and I received these very useful comments from one of my friends, a law graduate who specialised in intellectual property rights, about protecting your brand.
“Moral of the day: get your trademarks registered ASAP, because this poor guy is now stuck using “common law trademarking” known as Passing Off (i.e. Adecco is passing off his business as their own). Passing off is very, VERY difficult to prove in English law because of the amount of work and costs involved – not sure about US law.
Trademarking is EASY and there’s absolutely no excuse not to do it: just go to the UK website for it, fill in the form, pay some £600 *which will last 10 years, by the way* to protect the mark and therefore the associated brand. Literally, as soon as you have the income to do it, *do it*.
Here’s the official UK website – http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm.htm – any other website that doesn’t start from the Intellectual Property Office website (IPO) is an agency that will charge extra for the pleasure. It does take time for the trademark to be ratified because it needs to be researched by Trade Mark Attorneys (they’re not actually lawyers/solicitors/barristers but will be authoritative), but you can also check the UK register of trade marks too.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that this might only cover trade marks in the UK – it’s advisable to try and register your trade marks in any country where you derive the bulk of your work.”
Another friend has told me about another useful website: www.own-it.org, who give Intellectual Property Advice For The Creative Sector.
Disclaimer: These comments do not constitute legal advice. They only apply to English law. There will be similar laws in other countries, but you would need to check the details. We take no responsibility for any action taken based on these comments. The comments are posted here in good faith in the hope that they may help you to avoid a similar situation.