As a business owner, you’re focused on running and growing your business, looking for new opportunities, and being active in your community. When considering the name of your business, you should be concerned with the rights of others to that name – even if they are not in the same jurisdiction!
Let’s say your clever name provides you with all sorts of great press locally. One day, a letter arrives from a lawyer claiming that you have violated a trademark and that you immediately cease and desist using that name. This may require rebranding and all of the associated expense. Just ask Target. Target had to pay for the use of its branding elements in Canada in order to launch its conversion of the Zellers Inc. stores for which it paid $1.83 billion dollars.
As frustrating it may seem to have to speak with your attorney just to come up with a name for your business, it is an opportunity to develop value with your brand too. Your firm could be the holder of the federal trademark for your business (i.e. Virtus Law is a federal trademark). If you failed to consult with counsel prior to your branding, upon receiving a cease and desist letter, you should consult to determine if it is from the “patent trolls” or if it is truly legitimate. A good lawyer can also help you through the situation, negotiate time for you to handle the rebrand, or help you purchase a license to use the intellectual property. Good counsel can help you reach the best decision for your business. Your attorney can quickly research and determine who the valid holder of the trademark is and then advise you on next steps and reach out to the other party to help negotiate the best solution. They can also advise you on how to explain changes to customers and get more positive press from the incident.
Another common source of cease and desist letters is copyright infringement. This happens when you pull a photo, some music, or a video from the internet to use on your business website that you didn’t purchase or obtain a commercial license to use. Most people (some lawyers included) believe that all you need to do is remove the infringing content and demonstrate you have done so. However, this is merely the best possible outcome! Federal copyright violations have a civil penalty paid to the holder of the rights for $50,000 fine per instance of infringement.
If you need helping responding to a cease and desist letter or in protecting the rights that you have to your intellectual property (i.e. your tradename, published material), contact the attorneys at Virtus Law Firm. Let the experienced team at Virtus Law Firm guide you to the best solution. Reach out today by calling 612.888.1000 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.