Thursday, September 03, 2009

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Top Second Life Fashion Designer Protects SL Brand By Registering Trademark With US Government

Madamgzagato and trademarkMs. Zagato and her Never 30 trademark on US Patent and Trademark Office website

In my informal survey of content creators last week, only 13% had registered their work with real world government agencies. But according to MadamG Zagato, owner of Never 30, a popular in-world fashion brand, getting a real world trademark for her products has been invaluable to protecting them.

"I initially decided to trademark N30 because of the amount of keyword abuse I found," she tells me. (Competitors were adding unauthorized references to her products in their search descriptions.) "It was very easy to trademark my brand names. I simply used the USPTO website and completed the online process." That was easy; waiting for approval was not: "It took seven months to receive the registration numbers for both my Never 30 and my N30 trademarks."

But once she did have that official trademark in hand, it became an important part of protecting her Second Life business:

"I provided it to Linden Lab with a request to remove the brand name from the locations that were not authorized to use it," she continues. "Having a trademark doesn't impact or influence a DMCA complaint. However, having a trademark does help with having the brand name removed from keywords, parcel titles, parcel descriptions, object titles and descriptions, as well as XStreetSL item listing text. If you have a trademark, you'll need to fax Linden Lab a letter requesting action being sure to include the trademark serial and registration number."

Her advice for other content creators? "The satisfaction you will get from officially owning your brand name far outweighs the grief that comes from any number of alt businesses anyone can launch in competition against you," says Ms. Zagato. "Essentially your trademark stands out."

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Dedric Mauriac

What were the overall fees involved in registering a trademark? Did she register a logo as well, or just the name? Is she a US citizen, or did she have to go through additional barriers to go through the process? Is her trademark recognized in other countries?

MadamG Zagato

@Dedric,

Each trademark (class) costs $375 if filed via paper filing and $325 if filed online. When registering I personally did not register a logo, but specified the option for "standard character mark" which gives me some room for creativity when displaying my mark since I don't really use an artsy logo. Personally, I would recommend copyrighting any logo artwork with the U.S. Copyright Office if it's unique to your brand for additional documentation and protection. However, that is in 'addition' to and/or seperate from trademarking.

Yes, I am a U.S. Citizen. Anyone having a valid trademark on file with the U.S.P.T.O. may seek registration in any of the countries that have joined the Madrid Protocol by filing a single application, called an "international application," with the International Bureau of the World Property Intellectual Organization, through the USPTO.

In addition, certain countries recognize a United States registration as a basis for filing an application to register a mark in those countries under international treaties. Additonal information can be found here: http://www.uspto.gov/web/trademarks/madrid/madridfaqs.htm as well as here: http://www.wipo.int/madrid/en/

Finally, you can also gain additional protection with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol which can assist in keeping items with infringing trademarks and copyrights from entering the U.S. (Not much help with SL, but still good to know!) That information can be found here: https://apps.cbp.gov/e-recordations/

Some very basic and well explained information can be found here: http://www.uspto.gov/smallbusiness/trademarks/registering.html

I hope this answers your questions! :)

Korwyn Obscure

However you do not need to have a ® (circle R), which is what you get by registering. As soon as you use a name or logo for 'trade' you have a common trademark and can use the ™ (tm) symbol and have all it entails as protections from it's use.

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/tac/tmfaq.htm#Basic001

http://www.bitlaw.com/trademark/common.html

You have limited rights with common or common law trademarks, but you get them immediatly and they are recognized by law.

LL would still have to remove any invalid use of them if you filed a complaint.


Dedric Mauriac

@MadamG
Wow, thanks for all of that information. Is it a one time fee, or yearly? The price is still a bit out of my reach, but who knows. Maybe some day...

@Korwyn

Thanks. So basically I am assuming that I can start saying "Dedric Mauriac(tm)" everywhere, and that's all legal and free so long as no one else has registered it. If I want to take legal action (punitive damages), I would fork over 325 dollars and start to say "Dedric Mauriac(R)".

MadamG Zagato

@Dedric

Federal registration must be renewed every ten years, and additional filings must be filed after five years of continuous use.

@Korwyn

I was told by SLX (now XStreetSL) staff that I would need to provide the registration number before any action would be taken to protect my trademark. This was of course before the merger so perhaps their policy has changed.

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