Trademark label is a form of legal protection to protect original works. This US federal law gives the trademark or copyright owner the ability to exclusively display, reproduce, and distribute the work in question. A copyright will last the lifetime plus seventy years after the death of the original author.

Trademarks and Copyrights

Trademark and copyright are not interchangeable. Copyright protection is used for published works and unpublished works that can be written, drawn, painted, or created. Trademark protection is designed to protect words, phrases, symbols, logos, or any design that clearly identifies a product or service. For complete protection, in some case, both a trademark and copyright will be needed to protect your creations.

In technical terms, when you create a work you are the copyright owner. To create full legal protection, you should register for copyright status. This will help your case if it is found that someone is using your work without your permission.

To register a copyright, a form must be filed with the U.S. Copyright Office. You must pay a registration fee of $35 when you file online. However, if you file by mail the fee goes up to $50. When you file, a copy of the work must be sent with the application. Do not send the original; instead, send copies. When filing online, the work examples can be sent as attachments. Samples are entered into the public record.

To file for a trademark, a trademark application from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can be filed online. The application is between $275 and $325 if you are using the online system.

Trademarking a Clothing Label

A clothing label trademark is essential to the perception of the brand. This applies to the name, the logo, and the designs as a whole or when grouped together. This brand identity needs to be protected from any possible infringement. You are able to create trademark protection at both the federal and state level. To properly trademark a clothing label you should:

  • Choose a clothing label name that does not sound confusingly close to another brand.
  • Complete a name search at the federal and state level to confirm the name is not taken.
  • If there are similar names or trademarks, make a list and ask other people to see if they see them as too similar.
  • Design a logo that will stand out in terms of font, size, and color.
  • With the name and logo, create product samples that show the range of your clothing line.
  • Sell those products on the internet to create a large geographic area of distribution. This will show that common law trademark rights exist.
  • At the state level, register both the name and logo. This should be completed in any state where the products will have wide appeal and high sales. The applications can be submitted online or in-person depending on the state.
  • At the federal level, complete a federal trademark registration application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for both the name and the logo. The application must include design sketches and any stylized marks.

The application must include a signed, sworn affidavit or ownership rights. The associated fees must be paid as well. At this point, and in the future, continue the use of the name, logo, and stylized marks to show the continuous use of the label on sellable products. Continual use will prevent another label or company from using your designs, name, and logo. Trademarks must be renewed every ten years.

If copyright infringement is thought to have occurred, you must be able to show that the person infringing had the opportunity to see your works before creating their own and that the work in question is clearly a copy of your work. If a lawsuit is needed to defend your copyright or trademark, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not act as your legal counsel. You must hire an attorney who specializes in patent and trademark law. The first step should be a cease and desist letter, which is a good first attempt to avoid a lawsuit. It may not work, and you would then proceed to a lawsuit.

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