As an Orlando trademark attorney helping small businesses ensure their intellectual property is protected, I help entrepreneurs secure patents and trademark rights for their original work and branding. This includes a slogan trademark, which can be registered with either the United States Patent and Trademark Office (if you do business across state lines) or with the Florida Division of Corporations (if you intend to operate solely in Florida).
Slogans can be associated either with an advertising campaign or with the business or service generally. Some of the most well-known are those like, McDonald’s, “I’m loving it,” Nike’s, “Just do it,” or “Nationwide is on your side.” As your Orlando trademark attorney can explain, slogans that are used to sell a product or describe a brand, these can usually be protected with trademark registration. Other slogans intended to amuse or entertain (example: a t-shirt that says, “I’m with stupid” or a bumper sticker that says, “Think Green”) usually can’t be protected by a trademark.
Slogans usually cannot be protected by copyright laws because those do not protect short phrases.
You might have common law rights to a slogan trademark if it is unique to your brand, you’re the first to use it and it’s sufficiently creative and distinct (not merely informational or ornamental as outlined in Section 1202.4 of the Trademark Manual if Examining Procedure). Another thing to bear in mind is use it or lose it. If you aren’t actively using your slogan, the weaker your case will be.
An Orlando trademark attorney will likely advise, however, it’s usually best though to put it in writing by properly registering it as soon as possible so you have it clear and in writing in case there is ever a dispute. You protect yourself in the event another company swipes or idea or if another firm accuses of you of unlawfully using their slogan. Your trademark lawyer can also conduct searches to make sure the slogan you’ve chosen isn’t already taken (sparing you headaches in the long-run).
Other good times to examine trademarking a slogan include:
- Company changes ownership after application for trademarking is secured;
- A company is expanding via franchising;
- You’re launching a new advertising campaign with the slogan.
Trademarking your slogan gives you exclusive rights to use it.
Fighting Slogan Trademark Infringement With Help From Orlando Trademark Attorney
A Florida divorce lawyer recently filed a federal slogan trademark infringement lawsuit against a Texas divorce attorney, according to the San Antonio Express News. The lawyer in Florida has been using the slogan catchphrase, “Ever Argued With a Woman?” on billboards, advertising pamphlets, business cards and online since registering a federal trademark in 2014 – licensing it for use in Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. Her slogan is even her website domain name. Meanwhile, the attorney in Texas, who uses the phrase, “Ever Argue With a Woman?” says she registered her slogan trademark in 2012.
A third attorney, also in Texas, used the same slogan in her billboard. An image of that billboard was shared numerous times by social media users, making its way back to the Florida attorney, who sent a cease-and-desist trademark infringement letter. That Texas lawyer and the Florida attorney were working on a licensing deal when the Florida lawyer became aware of the second divorce attorney also using the slogan. The licensing agreement that was underway between the Texas and Florida attorneys fell through at that point, and the Texas lawyer agreed to drop the slogan and change her billboard to avoid litigation.
This triangle shows how quickly trademark infringement cases can get complicated, and why as an Orlando business attorney knowledgeable in trademark and patent law, I recommend almost all businesses trademark their slogan – and prioritize protection of all intellectual property – to give them the best possible shot at protecting their bottom line.
Contact Florida trademark attorney at The Chidolue Law Firm, serving Orlando and Lake Mary, by calling (407) 995-6567 or email us.
Legal fight erupts over San Antonio lawyer’s advertising slogan, Oct. 11, 2018, By Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express News
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FLORIDA TRADEMARK LITIGATION PITS CIRCUS AGAINST SINGER, January 30, 2018, Florida trademark attorney Blog