Saturday, October 06, 2012

Pat Pending

Once upon a time in radio a name like the above would probably have been nothing more concerning than the "nom de plume" of your all night jock.

The closest to copyright law we got was the annual reminder not to say the words "Super Bowl" on the air in connection with a promotion without getting the NFL's approval.

Ditto with the word "Olympics" every four years.

Then, thanks to Mission Abstract Data, suddenly every owner, GM and Chief Engineer has been forced to bone up on copyright law over the last few years.

Recently, due to major group consolidation even formerly settled brand name and position statements that stations have used on the air in their marketing for many years have been changing and new claims to service marks have emerged, now asserting ownershio of even "pictures, cartoons, drawing type, typeset words, letters, numbers" that radio companies have been using for a long time.

Lawyers for these radio stations, after reviewing the paperwork, have been advising in many cases to pay the new claimant for use of the marks as cheaper than engaging in a protracted and expensive court battle well before you have invested advertising time and money to make the names extremely valuable to you.

Can you say "Samsung?"

Yes, it can cost several thousand dollars to do a service mark, brand name, trade mark, copyright search.  So, it's tempting to cut a corner when choosing a name for that new talent, benchmark, position statement, brand name and just put it on the air, hoping that you can later demonstrate "first use," since it seemed at the time like you originated it.

Don't do it.

It can cost even more to aggressively protect a name that you did trade mark and feel you own, but if you don't spend that money, you risk losing it.

So, you must do it.

If you're in the business of mental warfare, whether you want to be or not, you are in the copyright, service mark and trade mark game too.

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