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Florida trademark attorney registration infringementNo one wants their ideas and dreams to be stolen. Sometimes, there is a fine line between what is yours and what someone else can legally use. When there is a question, a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney can determine if that line has been crossed. When you own a trademark, it is important to understand your rights and your options for addressing infringement.

Choosing Your Trademark

Trademarks are symbols, sometimes including a name and/or other words, that identify your product. When people see these symbols, they think of your company or your product. Trademarks make it easy to recognize a particular manufacturer or brand, and they can be registered to keep others from using something too similar which could confuse consumers. 

This is why it is important before you choose a trademark to consult an attorney and ensure that your trademark is original enough to avoid scrutiny. Attorneys can conduct a trademark search to ensure that your desired trademark is not already in use. Even simply using your own company’s name could be an infringement on some other business’s trademark, so it must be chosen carefully.

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Florida trademark attorneysTrademark registration law is full of interesting quirks and cases. In this post, we will answer two frequently asked questions about trademark law in the context of well-known brands.

Can One Product Have Multiple Trademarks?

A product or service can have multiple elements that can and should be trademarked individually. The MonopolyⓇ board game provides a good illustration of this. Hasbro, Inc. has registered trademarks for the Monopoly brand name, the Mr. Monopoly name and character, and the unique names and symbols of the game board’s corner squares (In Jail/Just Visiting, Go to Jail, Free Parking, and Go - although any game can use the word “go”). Each of these trademarks is a distinct verbal and/or visual element that consumers use to identify a product as coming from the Monopoly brand.

In an interesting twist, US courts have ruled that Hasbro’s trademark is not infringed by other board games that use names ending in “opoly” combined with a familiar-looking game board, i.e., spaces labeled with place names lining the four sides of a square board. For example, no trademark infringement has been committed by Late for the Sky Production Company’s city-based games such as Tampa-Opoly and university-based games such as Gator-Opoly. These games cannot, however, use the trademarked corner symbols that appear on the Monopoly brand game board nor can they use the Mr. Monopoly character. In addition, when these games use trademarked university logos, they must have permission from the trademark owner.

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Florida trademark attorneyAs a business owner, you most likely have created some valuable intellectual property (IP) that should be trademarked. But are you clear on the definition of a trademark? This article will explain what types of IP can and cannot be trademarked.

FYI, the term “trademark” in its narrowest sense is used in reference to products while the term “service mark” is used in reference to services (e.g., Jiffy LubeⓇ oil change service). However, the term “trademark” is commonly used in reference to both products and services because the same US law generally applies to both.

What Is a Trademark?

A trademark is something that makes it easy for consumers to recognize your brand when they see it. It can consist of words, graphic elements, or both.

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Florida fair use attorneyIf you are planning to use someone else’s copyrighted photographs, music, or other creative works in your business enterprise, you need to be very careful that you do not commit illegal copyright infringement. If you reproduce another person’s copyrighted work without permission and due compensation, you could be sued for damages.

However, not every unlicensed use of a copyrighted work is unlawful. One of the most important issues in copyright law is the concept of “fair use.” The legal doctrine of fair use permits the use of copyrighted music, images, and other creative works in limited circumstances that are considered crucial to protecting the freedom of expression. Examples of fair uses include news reporting, nonprofit educational activities, and critique or commentary.

A user of copyrighted material and the copyright holder often disagree over the differences between fair use and unlawful use. This may result in a lawsuit in which the copyright holder seeks damages from a user of copyrighted material for what they clearly see as copyright infringement, while the user argues that they are protected by the fair use doctrine. Ultimately, the court sides with the law, which applies four specific criteria.

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Florida copyright lawyerWhen you have created copyrighted material such as music, photographs, or books, it is incredibly important to ensure that no one else makes money off your intellectual property. After all, failure to defend your work against copyright infringement means lost income for you.

However, you do need to be aware that some uses of your copyrighted work are considered “fair use.” The legal doctrine of fair use is intended to ensure freedom of expression, a freedom highly valued by Americans and protected by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

Likewise, if you want to use someone else’s copyright works for your own business purposes, you need to be clear on whether your use constitutes a fair use or a copyright infringement. You do not want to become the target of a lawsuit for damages because you improperly reproduced someone else’s original work.

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