Trademark hopefuls in New Jersey may be interested in a trademark case decided in December 2017 that struck down some restrictions on obscene or offensive speech used in trademarks. The case played out as a contest between First Amendment rights and the obligation the government has to protect the population from offensive speech. In this instance, the First Amendment seems to have won the day.
Business owners in New Jersey can create a trademark for their business regardless of the size of their enterprise. Trademarks can be used to protect the logo, name or slogan of businesses. However, business owners should know what type trademark they can have and how to register it.
Registering a trademark in the United States is insufficient to protect the interests of a New Jersey company that wants to market goods and services overseas, especially in China. Chinese law defends the intellectual property rights of those entities that register a claim within the country first. This means that a Chinese company can claim a trademark recognized in the U.S. as long as it does it before the creator of the brand. A U.S. company entering China could then be forced to buy the rights from the holder of the Chinese version of the trademark.
New Jersey residents may know LeBron James from his time in the NBA. He has also formed a company called LBJ Trademarks that deals with trademarks such as those for inspirational quotes or sayings. While it may seem odd that someone can trademark a phrase, doing so can mean millions of dollars for the trademark holder. As it relates to simple words or phrases, a person may be able to trademark it even if he or she wasn't the first one to say it.
New Jersey businesses are able to seek copyrights and trademarks of their intellectual property in order to protect it. After companies file for copyrights or trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, their proposed marks and intellectual property will be investigated to make certain that they comply with the law and are not too similar to material that has already received trademarks or copyrights.
It may be possible for a New Jersey trademark holder to transfer that mark to another party. Once the transfer occurs, that party has the same right to use and defend it against infringement that the original owner once had. In the event that only one mark is being transferred, the process may be relatively easy. However, that may not be the case if multiple marks are being transferred.
New Jersey business owners who are interested in trademark registration might not be clear on the differences between different symbols associated with trademarks, and when they are allowed to be used. The two common symbols for trademarks and registered trademarks can mean different things and can be used at different times during the process of trademark registration.
A real-life court battle involving the Fox Network's television show "Empire" adds to the show's fictional drama that has attracted many viewers in New Jersey and around the world. A record label known as Empire Distribution has challenged the network's use of the word "empire" and alleged trademark infringement.
New Jersey trademark owners and applicants should remain vigilant against ruses designed to compel them to purchase unnecessary trademark services. Scammers are obtaining the names of the owners from a database at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and are pretending to operate on behalf of the USPTO. The prevalence of this practice has been so rampant that a public meeting was held by the USPTO in order to spread awareness about the issue and to propose methods for combating it.
New Jersey comic fans might be interested in a trademark dispute involving Hasbro, Warner Bros. and DC Comics. Hasbro is the owner of the Transformers brand, and it claims that Warner Bros. and DC have committed trademark infringement. Specifically, Hasbro claims that a DC character named Bumblebee could be confused with the Autobot also named Bumblebee. The character created by DC is a teenage girl who has the ability to shrink.