Tuesday, December 17, 2013

More Trademark Info

FYI, we are legally trademarked and specifically listed under those terms are wristbands, bumper stickers and apparel. Subsequently, we have to report ALL sales/proceeds from any sales with our name on it to the IRS, according to the terms of our 501(c)3 paperwork. We went through a lot of time and money becoming a legal business, a registered non-profit and charity, along with getting trademarked over a year ago.  We've been selling items for well over a year also.  Because we do have respect for others trying to do good in their community, we have no interest in pursuing any legal action against anyone trying to do the same. We simply have to make sure that A) we are doing everything correctly on our end as to not get in any predicament with the IRS and B) wanting to make others aware that we exist as a legal company, non-profit, charity and that we are a trademarked entity.  We had people selling items during the Black Forest Fire this summer claiming to be us and that has us on high alert now.

According to trademark law, using "Colorado Strong" and "ColoradoStrong" is trademark infringement, especially because "trademark rights only protect the particular type of goods and services that the mark owner is selling under the trademark".  We have wristbands and apparel very specifically listed under our trademark registration. 

Further, "A mark that is confusingly similar so closely resembles a registered trademark that it is likely to confuse consumers as to the source of the product or service. Consumers could be likely to believe that the product with the confusingly similar mark is produced by the organization that holds the registered mark. Someone who holds a confusingly similar mark benefits from the good will associated with the registered mark and can lure customers to his/her product or service instead.  Trademark rights only protect the particular type of goods and services that the mark owner is selling under the trademark. Some rights to expansion into related product lines have been recognized, but generally, if you are selling goods or services that do not remotely compete with those of the mark owner, this is generally strong evidence that consumers would not be confused and that no infringement exists. A mark protects more than identical copying, it extends to anything that is confusingly similar, even if it isn't exactly the same. "  

I bring that up because we are constantly made aware of others' products when we have people message us to ask if we are the same organization.

I also found out that because our trademark name is also our registered trade name (business name) and we have a registered domain name matching, we technically could go after anyone using any combo of the name/phrase/slogan.  

The bottom line is that we are protected under the trademark law. We never want to stop anyone from raising funds to benefit their community but there are guidelines that are supposed to be followed for both selling products and raising money.  

I hope others can understand why the trademark laws exist, as well as, laws for raising money. You can check with the Co Secretary of State for further info about fundraising.

Maybe with all the fundraising in our state, someone should do a story about the laws and guidelines about fundraising. Of course it's usually innocent and people mean well, but what about those that go about it the proper way, spending a lot of time and money going through the proper channels to do it legally, already exist and are trademarked? Would we be able to sell "Nike" products to raise money simply because we mean well? 

What about those simply claiming to be raising money? The laws are in place for a reason.  It's very frustrating to those that go through the hassle of becoming businesses, non-profits and trademarking. It's not an easy process, which is why 99% of people don't do it. Instead, they just sell things on a whim and have news stations all over the state promoting it. 

It's great what they're doing but they should do it with a phrase that isn't already trademarked. There are tons of other things that could be printed up. No one bothers to check the legalities first for whatever reason though. Then, when it's brought up, the ones that have put all the time, money and effort into doing it legally are the bad guys! It makes no sense.

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