To trademark/copyright or not?

Hello, everyone!

I have been researching the idea of protecting the name of my support group as we have plans for expanding and getting involve more on a national level. As you all know, a lot of time is put in on my group, which is is now 7 years old.

There have been a few folks trying to start other groups in our name (as if they are affiliated), and although they usually flop, it’s concerning when you are trying to build a solid reputation.

Has anyone ever copyrighted or trademarked their “brand”? What tips do you have to protect your project?

Thank you for reading!!!

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This is a GREAT question! I bet there are a bunch of leaders here that can speak to this.

@rarecandace would you have any thoughts?

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Thanks! I’d appreciate any input! :heart:

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Disclaimer: I have zero experience with IP in the patient advocacy/support arena. I do have a good bit of experience with IP in consumer products and such. Securing intellectual property (IP) can be frustrating, time consuming and expensive. Although not specifically required, an IP attorney is your shepherd through this landscape. You have to determine if the name/logo is protectable in the first place (it’s hard to protect general names such as Leukemia Support). After that you go through the legal process with USPTO, which is never instant. Let’s assume that you have made it this far and have your certificate from USPTO. Somebody decides to clone your site/work/logo and you want to do something about it. Will you? You pretty much need to make a commit to protect your IP every time you become aware of an infringement. That can get pricey. And if you let some slide, while going after others… You’ll make it very difficult to enforce your rights and you may even risk losing them. I can point you in the right direction with some IP attorneys that I trust if you decide to go down this path.

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Thank you, Jeff! I figured that protecting my group’s name will be a headache of an undertaking! It’s definitely uncharted territory. It will be interesting to see if anyone has done this already, and hopefully they will come forward with their experience.

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Lena,
I have a little experience through different organization & trade groups I am in. I have come to understand this: If you do not actively go after abusers/users of your trade names it will be harder to claim it is yours later in court. The best example of this is the National Association of Realtors® has very specific use and non use of the name. They send cease and desist orders all the time. That goes the same for phrases which are trademarked.

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If you plan on taking your organization to the next level, you absolutely need to look into a Trademark for your organization’s name, and copyright any and all materials you are using that another group could try to pass off as their own.

I have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with these situations as both a board member of an organization and an attorney. I tell everyone, if you can afford to file for a trademark, do it! It’s important to hire a competent attorney to handle it, as they will need to conduct a diligent search and may have to issue a cease and desist letter to an organization pretending to be “you”.

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I have trademarked “Lupus Life Hacks®” for this exact purpose as others have tried doing the same. I would say definitely go for it and make sure you have specific examples of how the trademark will provide something. For example, they were going to deny me because it was an ambiguous term. I showed them my YouTube and Instagram layout and how I plan on educating others on decreasing symptoms. They approved it in the end. However, they would not approve my business name Lupus Health Shop, so now we’re struggling with others trying to copy. You win some, you lost some.

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Thank you Candace, for sharing!

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Thank you, Janeen and best of luck on your projects! :slight_smile:

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Really great question! I feel everyone on here may want to know about this at some point in their advocacy.

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I believe it is important to protect what you have created, I have trademarked my brand and found that is has led to many wonderful collborations…if ou need anythign please let me know!