Trademarking

have any teams out there trademarked their team, logos or events that they have? we’re thinking about it and wanted to know if any others have already done it.

Not sure…but could that pose a threat since you’re submitting it to FIRST for them to publish in their little booklet? I’m not much of a legal person…nor do I understand the limitations of trademarks…

no need for my team to go claiming something for us and only us… a few years ago a girl ( Now and alumni ) designed our logo, so it was ours to begin with…legally, wouldn’t she have the rights to it?

da bears logo.gif


da bears logo.gif

We may have a little problem trying to copywrite ours since it is similar to FIRST but im not a lawyer either so i wouldnt know.

naclogosmall.jpg


naclogosmall.jpg

OK gang. Hopefully I can offer some insight. Some points of clarification are needed from a legal standpoint. First of all trademarks and copyrights are different entities. Copyrights are for real and intellectual property while trademarks are primarily for logos and other such visuals. Our team has placed a “TM” behind the Cybersonics logo. This is not the same as trying to copyright the word “Cybersonics”. We don’t want to own the word, we just want our logo to be ours and recognized as such. I sugggest you search online for copyright and trademark laws for more details, but in a nutshell this is what my previous paralegal education has taught me:

Trademarks - Applying for a trademark can be a long, tedious, and expensive venture. If you apply for and receive a logo trademark, that legally enables you to use the registered trademark (the encircled r) and protection under all trademark law. Without any application you can use a “TM”, “tm” or the word “trademark” legally and still be protected under trademark law. The only thing such a group can’t use is the registered trademark insignia. If someone else steals your logo and uses it as theirs, you can still win a case as long as you can prove first use of that logo and that it originated with you. Basically, if you mail the logo in a sealed envelope to yourself or archive a CD, time and date stamped then you are doing something to protect yourself. To us, it didn’t seem practical for a FIRST team to spend hundreds of dollars (how much more 80:20 can you buy with that fee?) to register a trademark when we can go ahead and use the “TM” to protect ourselves. If we were a for profit business things would be different, but we are not.

Copyright - Here, I would think most teams might think of wanting to protect website content, etc this way. Basically copyright laws are more complex and, depending on the situation, have expiration dates (that’s how Michael Jackson was able to buy the rights to the Beatles song “Revolution” and then sell them to Nike for a commercial). I suggest online searching, view websites, and legal advice in this area if you want to go that way. Again there are things you can do for free without using the official copyright “c” to protect yourself. Website disclaimers about content are common and require no formal registration to be protected. And even if you do claim all content as yours you can still give permission for others to use it. Just check out www.segway.com and look for their “press kit”. Their logo is trademarked, but they have designated logos for download and use by the media.

On a general note it is my belief the FIRST community should not go out of its way to legally restrict too much sharing as sharing is what has built the huge success. I would never want to see in headlines “team xyz sues team pdq” for copyright, trademark, or even patent infringement. This type of atmosphere would stifle one of the most progressive movements in our society. ON THE OTHER HAND, I believe a team should do everything it can to brand and protect their “name” and what they stand for so they become highly visable a well recognized.

Hope this info. was of some help.

Dan,

She may or may not. The rights may be the team’s. Search for specific laws here. In many instances if this work was performed for a work group, the group generally owns those rights. However, since this is not a paid employee with an employment contract it’s a little fuzzier from a legal point of view. Again, I wouldn’t make big issues unless you have a problem. Remember FIRST is a vehicle to strengthen society.

I will say this as a life lesson for all students who continually seem to ask “what’s the big deal” though. In the private sector almost all employers will expressly state that, as a condition of employment, any copyright, trademark, or patent obtained as a result of work for the company is the property of the company. My father had his name on two US patents as a mechanical engineer. The rights, however, were owned by his employer. A close friend of mine has been a copyrighter and now the head of production for a top 100 web company. His employers actually own his ideas to an extent (and for a period of time after leaving them if he so chooses). As a condition of employment if he were to strike out on the internet on his own for extra money and he were found out by his employer he could be dismissed and even sued for violating his employment contract.

Wow Rich, thanks for clearing things up, went way out of your way there, now my head hurts ( too much legal stuff is painfull )

Rich did a good job explaining the difference between copyright and trademark. One thing to note is if you fail to defend a trademark, you lose it. For example, if FIRST trademarks the FIRST logo, and then battlebots starts using it, FIRST can’t wait ten years and then demand their logo back. Those of us with large corporate sponsors may find this out firsthand, as many of them have specific rules on how their trademarked logo may be used.

He did a very good job. I wouldn’t have the patience to type all that. Now I realize the difference in ™, ©. If you can’t see the symbols its Trademark and Copyright.