carguy123
carguy123 UltimaDork
2/24/23 2:38 p.m.

I've seen some pretty diverse topics on here so I know we have people with a lot of different backgrounds and knowledge.  Let me preface my question with I realize that before it's all said and done I will need to consult an attorney.

 

I was looking for a way to have fun and gain a little supplemental income for when I retire next year and I've stumbled upon something that has the potential to be good - I think.  At this stage I have to be a little vague about exactly what it is, but actually what it is isn't all that germaine to the questions I have.

 

I don't want to accidentally do something wrong while I'm in the proof of concept stage so I'm wondering what can you do to protect your brand/concept in the early stages so that it can't be legally stolen?

 

It's a public event (for lack of a better word) so that means it's necessarily out there for people to see and I've had to do some promotions.  So can anyone tell me what I should definitely NOT do?

 

Also what steps give you the protection I'll need?  Is it trademarking?  I've been in business for most of my life but I've never developed a new type of product and had to protect it so I am completely lost.

 

To complicate matters the next step will be to franchise or license it to others, definitely nationwide and from the initial promotions I've had people from Australia and Italy contact me wanting to "sign up" with me so it has some international implications.

 

While all indications are this could be big, at this stage I can't afford to be spending a lot of money on potentially useless lawyers if it doesn't pan out the way I think.  It's already taken a E36 M3 load of money to get me this far so I must be frugal.

 

Be gentle but does anyone have any sage words of wisdom for this early stage or can point me to a direction that I might read about later steps?

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
2/24/23 2:47 p.m.

How easy is it for someone to replicate what you are doing?  Barriers to entry are safety nets. 
 

My observation is that registrations, trademarks, etc are only as good as your willingness to defend them legally. 
 

If you have a product or service that is easy for others to replicate, no trademark or legal protection is gonna protect  it unless you are ready and willing to pour the money into lawyering up. 
 

If your product or service is not easy to replicate, it's safe to proceed without trademark protection until you have reached a scale that can afford the legal follow through. 

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
2/24/23 2:48 p.m.

If what you are doing is truly "big" AND easy to replicate, give up. Someone will definitely steal it as soon as they see it. 

carguy123
carguy123 UltimaDork
2/24/23 11:40 p.m.

It has the potential to be money making which is why I was asking the questions to see if someone could steer me in the right direction to avoid making a misteak that would mean I couldn't protect my brand

And once anything has been done there will always be others who will do it.  It's only impossible until the first person does it.  Look at the A-bomb.

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
2/25/23 7:57 a.m.

Find an IP (Intellectual Property) lawyer.

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
2/25/23 8:00 a.m.

In reply to carguy123 :

That's why barriers to entry are valuable. The idea isn't to stop everyone from doing it. The idea is to limit the vast number of people. 
 

Money, technical expertise, and access to weapons grade uranium are all barriers to entry for an A-bomb.

A trademark or registration is not a barrier to entry. Being willing to pay the lawyers gobs of money to follow through protecting that trademark is.

If you have a trademark and I decide to steal it, no one is gonna fight me for it except you. There won't be some trademark police who come storming in to defend your brand.  You might win in court, but the burden of proof will be on you, and the lawyers will milk you. 
 

 

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
2/25/23 8:08 a.m.

A trademark protects the name of the event. The name is pretty much automatically a trademark as soon as you start using it, but registering it gives some extra protection - see this link for how trademarks work.

https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/basics

If there are various performers or stars of your event, you may be able to get them to sign some sort of exclusive deal for your brand.

Other than that, the main protection for an event is putting on something good enough you have repeat customers who can't wait for the next one. Not much you can do to patent a type of event, usually.

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones SuperDork
2/25/23 8:21 a.m.
SV reX said:

If what you are doing is truly "big" AND easy to replicate, give up. Someone will definitely steal it as soon as they see it. 

What a E36 M3 way to look at things. Don't even try because someone else will copy it? Give up before you start? I'm glad the car manufacturers didn't think that way, I like choices. 

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
2/25/23 8:27 a.m.

I would put forth that your "Brand" is going to be your best defense against competition. You need to get in with your service and establish your credentials as above what others can provide. Then grow really fa$t so that others would have to fight their way into a filled niche.

You mention both franchise and international opportunities: What you are proposing sounds a lot more like a 100+ hour a week start-up venture rather than a fun retired pastime. In the short term it is going to require funding to grow ( legal and franchise expenses devour cash) so are your retirement funds able to survive this not working out? What are your exit strategies depending on how it works out?

 

If you just want to stick a toe in the water and try to grow organically ( funding growth only with business profits) then it is a certainty that someone will come along and build on top of you with their brand. Sad reality is that innovators seldom profit from their innovation because they are not business people.

porschenut
porschenut HalfDork
2/25/23 9:01 a.m.

SV Rex is on the right track.  Hate to be negative but business is about money not ethics or in some case laws.  You can copyright, patent trademark and because I have more money than you my lawyers will beat your lawyers.  Was on the losing side of this, had a patented product copied by a richer competitor and knew the legal fees would not be worth the fight.  

Sorry to be a downer on this, but the pain of my education will stay with me forever.  Do meet with a lawyer and get some real knowledge on path choices.  Actually meet with more than one lawyer.  Never trust one lawyer, but that was a whole 'nother education I had!

pheller
pheller UltimaDork
2/25/23 9:20 a.m.

It's interesting that people from all over are talking with you about this.

 

Wait too long and one of your potential clients might just do it themselves. 
 

Sometimes the best protection is just doing something better and learning lessons earlier in the game. Even well funded competitors may not know something you quickly learn.

G8MikeGXP
G8MikeGXP Reader
2/25/23 9:58 a.m.

One suggestion, take a look at this site: https://www.iprcenter.gov/ip-protect

This is not actually true - "There won't be some trademark police who come storming in to defend your brand." 

The IP Protect program has free resources from the Michigan State University Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection, US Chamber of Commerce, and others.  

If you're not selling a product, but hosting events, protecting your IP is likely going to be more difficult.  As other have said, establishing the brand and the name, and using them publicly, is key to protecting them.  If you trademark a name and then don't use it widely and publicly, you'll lose it. 

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
2/25/23 10:30 a.m.
Steve_Jones said:
SV reX said:

If what you are doing is truly "big" AND easy to replicate, give up. Someone will definitely steal it as soon as they see it. 

What a E36 M3 way to look at things. Don't even try because someone else will copy it? Give up before you start? I'm glad the car manufacturers didn't think that way, I like choices. 

It's not a E36 M3ty way to look at it. It's a practical way to look at it. 
 

Why sink a ton of money into something that someone is gonna steal from you?  A decent business plan includes some level of barrier to entry. 
 

Car manufacturers absolutely think that way too. 

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones SuperDork
2/25/23 10:35 a.m.

In reply to SV reX :

There are plenty of other general contractors in the USA. You should give up and stop doing it. Same thinking. 

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
2/25/23 10:37 a.m.

I was once published in a book. A coffee table style collection of short stories that many of you may have seen.
 

The publisher stole my work, and included it in their book without my permission. Even credited me by name.

I never earned a nickel.  Bottom line was their attorney was bigger than mine, and their pockets were much deeper.

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
2/25/23 10:49 a.m.

In reply to Steve_Jones :

That's not the same thinking. Because there is plenty of space in the contracting market for multiple providers. 
 

The market is so huge that I don't need any kind of registration to protect my brand. Hell, many contractors survive without even having a license. 
 

I won't lose any customers to other contractors. That's a completely different scenario to seeking trademark protection because you are afraid of losing market share. 

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones SuperDork
2/25/23 10:50 a.m.

In reply to SV reX :

So you regret writing the story? I'll just never understand telling someone to "give up" before they start. You didn't say "protect yourself" or "look out for x"

You said "give up". I stand by saying that's a E36 M3 thing to tell someone. 
I'm sure many on their deathbed think "I'm glad I never tried" vs "at least I gave it a shot"

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
2/25/23 11:00 a.m.

In reply to Steve_Jones :

Except I didn't say that. 
 

What I said was if the idea was truly "big" AND easy to replicate, that it would likely be stolen. Just like my story. 
 

Im trying to help th OP avoid the pain of having something he poured his heart into being stolen from him. 
 

Trademark will not protect him if it is truly easy to replicate and very profitable. 
 

I didn't say give up. Your words, not mine. I was suggesting finding a method to create a barrier to entry, or develop a business plan that recognizes the likelihood that the idea will be stolen, and therefore plan and budget accordingly. 

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
2/25/23 11:02 a.m.

In reply to Steve_Jones :

I regret making the story available in a manner that enabled it to be stolen, without recognizing the risk.

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones SuperDork
2/25/23 11:12 a.m.
SV reX said:

In reply to Steve_Jones :

Except I didn't say that. 
 

What I said was if the idea was truly "big" AND easy to replicate, that it would likely be stolen. Just like my story. 
 

Im trying to help th OP avoid the pain of having something he poured his heart into being stolen from him. 
 

Trademark will not protect him if it is truly easy to replicate and very profitable. 
 

I didn't say give up. Your words, not mine. I was suggesting finding a method to create a barrier to entry, or develop a business plan that recognizes the likelihood that the idea will be stolen, and therefore plan and budget accordingly. 

Your exact words are:

 If what you are doing is truly "big" AND easy to replicate, give up. Someone will definitely steal it as soon as they see it.

They're still posted. Scroll up. That's your entire post. You didn't suggest anything. You did say it, and they're not my words. 3rd post in the thread.

 

Is that not you? It says "give up" right?

porschenut
porschenut HalfDork
2/25/23 11:38 a.m.

No it doesn't say give up.  It says business is a big bad world and there are more people who will steal from you than give you a fair shake.  That is the best advise the OP can get right now.  They can succeed but need to be very cautious.

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones SuperDork
2/25/23 11:47 a.m.

In reply to porschenut :

His exact words are "give up" but it doesn't say "give up"? 
 

He says he never said it, and it's my words, not his. Am I making up the 3rd post? Am I seeing things that are not there? I see a sentence that ends with the words "give up". Does your screen show something different? I'm truly baffled here. 

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
2/25/23 12:15 p.m.

Patents, copyright, trademarks are your public protections. Private ones are trade secrets. Some of these things can't be protected once they are public. If you want to pm me with details I would be willing to help. 

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
2/25/23 12:30 p.m.
SV reX said:
Steve_Jones said:
SV reX said:

If what you are doing is truly "big" AND easy to replicate, give up. Someone will definitely steal it as soon as they see it. 

What a E36 M3 way to look at things. Don't even try because someone else will copy it? Give up before you start? I'm glad the car manufacturers didn't think that way, I like choices. 

It's not a E36 M3ty way to look at it. It's a practical way to look at it. 
 

Why sink a ton of money into something that someone is gonna steal from you?  A decent business plan includes some level of barrier to entry. 
 

Car manufacturers absolutely think that way too. 

Communication lesson I learned early in the  people management game "Listen to what I mean, not  just what I said (or wrote)"

 

Context counts.  Y'alls are missing the word "IF" in the above message.  If I listen to what was meant, rather than what was extracted as a point to argue, the message reads "Don't do this if....". And the advice is sound advice in much the same as telling someone that wants to swim across a shark infested bay pulling a bag of bleeding fish that it is a "bad idea" and that maybe they should "QUIT while they are ahead. Or not, cause free advice is worth what you pay.

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones SuperDork
2/25/23 12:38 p.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

Valid point, but then just say "that didn't come out how I meant it" vs saying you didn't say it and the other person made it up. 
 

Paul said something negative vs positive. I said look at the positive instead. He says he never said the negative thing, and porschenut backs him up, even though it's there in black and white. I get some people here don't like my posts, and I'm ok with that. Lying about what you said, lying about me making it up, and someone else defending the lies is next level E36 M3. 

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