A fresh trade mark lawsuit in the US involving ‘Yellowstone’ TV show creator Taylor Sheridan and one of the series’ stars – underscores that legal protection put in place early to protect your business from the outset – is essential when it comes to your brand.
Trade marks help safeguard your venture’s unique products, services or branding because they can provide a way to, legally, stop other organisations from using your intellectual property.
Logos, pictures, packaging, phrases, wording, letters, colours, sounds, and even smells that are uniquely linked to your business can be registered as trade marks.
As they help your customers recognise your specific offerings from those of others, trade marks are incredibly important for businesses.
It’s worrying then that the Australian IP Report 2023 shows trade mark applications fell by 11.2 percent in Australia over the last 12 months and there are concerns economic factors may be playing a part.
New US trade mark challenge
The fresh US trade mark battle has arisen in Texas and involves ‘Yellowstone’ TV show creator Taylor Sheridan and one of the series’ stars.
Sheridan’s Texan equine facility, known as Bosque Ranch, recently filed a lawsuit accusing actor Cole Hauser’s coffee company, Free Rein, of trade mark infringement.
Bosque Ranch claims the Free Rein logo is “strikingly similar” to its logo – a registered trade mark – and that the intent is to “mistake or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association” between the two brands.
Bosque Ranch released its own line of coffee (in conjunction with another US coffee company) in June. Free Rein was launched in October.
While the Bosque Ranch – Free Rein legal stoush may yet take some time to be resolved, the fact that Bosque Ranch, which launched before Free Rein, has its logo registered gives it valuable legal protection and a stronger legal platform to stand on.
When it comes to trade mark law, getting in first is critical.
Trade marks are a valuable asset
- Many people fail to recognise a registered trade mark is a business asset, and one that can prove very valuable. The more successful your business over time, the more valuable the asset.
- Trade mark registration is the legal process that allows your company to use the ® symbol next to your trade mark. Using the symbol often serves to deter competitors from encroaching on your branding.
- In Australia, an approved trade mark application gives exclusive rights to use the trade mark for 10 years. It then needs to be renewed. Registration is required in other countries if you also want your trade mark covered there.
- Another key way a trade mark is an asset is that it can be sold or licensed for use by other organisations, providing income.
Trade mark: a real world issue
A quick look at the history books shows trade mark issues can and do arise, and having legal protection in place makes all the difference.
- Jack Daniels approached author Patrick Wensink after the distiller discovered a Wensink book cover that looked like their trade marked branding.
- Thinking about using the word ‘superhero’ in your business? Think again, defender! Marvel Comics and DC Comics have the trade mark on this word and aren’t afraid to take legal action.
- South Korean fried chicken restaurant Louis Vuiton Dak learned about the impact of trade mark the hard way when it was taken on by fashion brand Louis Vuitton. The restaurant lost the trade mark battle and was given a hefty fine for non-compliance after the ruling.
You can also read our piece about pop star Katy Perry’s recent trade mark loss here.
Trade mark: a responsible business choice
While establishing a new business is a demanding task and the temptation is there to put trade mark registration on the back-burner until later, putting some priority on this vital legal step is a must when it comes to brand safeguarding.
This advice is not just because of the protection trade mark registration affords.
Research shows there are also economic benefits.
For example, the Australian Government states “SMEs that file for patents, trade marks and design rights are more than 2 times more likely to achieve high turnover growth than their peers with no recent filings.”
And a UK paper found “for businesses launching products, each additional trade mark is linked to an 8% revenue increase per employee.”
Need more trade mark information?
Read our earlier blog.
Trade mark is easy with Quest Legal’s experts
Looking for trusted support to manage your trade mark application in Australia and other countries?
At Quest Legal, we are specialist trade mark lawyers and make the process easy for businesses.
We also understand SMEs and, as such, offer fixed-price legal services and advice you can understand!
Contact us today for your free initial consultation.