Disclaimer: This is my experience. In no way should this be construed as professional advice.
Over time, I've chiselled away and not so long ago, I finally regained control of the URL. Great and happy times ensued but the burning need to prevent something like this happening again spurred me to ensure I did something tangible to protect my brand.
Yes, I have Imogene Nix registered as a business and tied my ABN to it, but more was needed. The truth is, I needed to Trade Mark it to protect myself.
Now, I'd be really surprised to learn people haven't come across this symbol before, but what exactly does it mean?
A trademark is a type of intellectual property consisting of a recognized sign, design or expression which identfies products or services of a particular source from those of others, although trademarks used to identify services are usually called service marks.
A registered trade mark provides you with exclusive rights to use, license and sell the mark. It’s also a valuable marketing tool because the value of your trade mark increases with the success of your business.
Trademark rule requires foreign-domiciled applicants and registrants to have a U.S.-licensed attorney
- Foreign-domiciled trademark applicants, registrants, and parties to Trademark Trial and Appeal Board proceedings, including Canadian trademark filers, must appoint and be represented before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) by an attorney who is licensed to practice law in the United States. See more about foreign-domiciled trademark applicants, registrants, and parties.
However, there is another way. It's involved. It's costly (but hey, the whole thing is!) but I can do it without needing a US attorney.
I rang the examiner and spoke to him, querying the reason for this. He told me that as a "Famous Person" was named Imogene Nix, it couldn't proceed. When I explained that Imogene Nix was me (yes, I queried that he meant the author) he asked me to send a Statutory Declaration stating this.
I did so and the file moved on.
On the 8th April my application was marked as Accepted and on 9th April I received my notice of Early Acceptance. So it met all the conditions.
From this point on, it's a waiting game. In August it moves into Opposition mode. That's when people can object. Once it goes through the 2 month system, in October I should receive the official certificate.
Okay, so what does this have to do with the USA and so on?
Well, see, one you have your TM locked down, you can make application through the Madrid Protocol. What this is, is an international body that recognises foreign TM's.
So, by having an Australian TM I can make application that my TM be acepted and endorsed in the USA (and any other signatory country).
Trade Marking isn't for everyone, but for those who want to protect their brand (and I have been working at this one for nearly 10 years) this is an effective way to keep your brand yours.
If you decide to go down this route, then good luck. It takes time, patience and some $$ but it's well worth the effort!
Trade Mark examination Costs
Difference between a Trade Mark and Business Registration
The Madrid Protocol
How to apply for a Trade Mark
USPTO for non Americans