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Legalese: The Trademark

Jimmy's trademark wacky vet routine was not legally protected.

Those two tiny letters can make all the difference

When Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake launched a real-world annotation app called Pinwheel in 2012, she immediately ran into trouble. Turns out there was already a photo-sharing app called Pinweel on the market.

The original Pinweel was promptly granted an injunction against the newcomer for trademark infringement, and two days later, Fake renamed her service Findery.

“A simple search or engaging a lawyer would have discovered that problem,” Dave Capucilli, of the Capucilli Firm, told us. “If you’re building a brand name that you haven’t thoroughly vetted, and then two years in you have to suddenly change it? That’s a huge problem.”

Words, logos, and slogans are all capable of being trademarked. The average application takes seven to ten months to be approved, and in addition to legal fees, each application runs $325 per filing, per category.

It’s possible to get through the trademark application process spending just a few thousand dollars, however – money well spent if you want to protect your brand.

“I advise my clients – if they’re getting seed money – to budget something for a trademark application,” Capucilli said. “If you have a viable product that’s going to get to market, it’s incredibly important.”

You can get started on your journey to TM by checking out the US Patent and Trademark Office’s page – complete with how-to videos and online filing – here.

Now go forth (and make your mark).


Nitty Gritty:

Bass Brewery: First logo to be registered as a trademark, in 1875

$80k: Amount paid by Apple Computer in 1981 after a lawsuit from Beatles holding company Apple Corps

2012: Year “Storage War’s” Dave Hester filed a trademark suit against R&B singer Trey Songz for use of the word “Yuuup!”


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