I LOVE THE INTERNET BUT WHEN IT COMES TO TRADEMARK LAW READER BEWARE
The Internet is truly amazing. Everyone with a computer has access to a wealth of information beyond the wildest dreams of America's great robber barons. For free. Or almost free.
This democratization of information has been a threat to many who provide professional services. But for others-and here I include myself- offering such services to folks who have a real understanding of their needs is much more rewarding. With even modest research skills a consumer can develop a basic understanding of many specialized concepts. Then that consumer can much more effectively evaluate the service that she is buying.
But. And life being life there is always a but. A consumer must have faith that the basic information on the Net is accurate. And, for those seeking information on US trademark law, that faith may be misplaced. In the past week I found one article and one blog post- by lawyers claiming expertise in trademark law- that were either flat out wrong or that contained outdated information.
If I were a small businessperson reading the article- which touted the benefits of federal trademark registration- I would assume that by federally registering my trademark I would be purchasing a lottery ticket- that I could cash in when some national company wanted to use the same name- even though my use was confined to the locale where I lived. And if I read the blog site entry I would conclude that I could not sell one of the branded products from my product line unless I sold my entire business.
And the reality? Federally registering a trademark confers a national right- but no national remedy unless you are using a term across all or almost all the US. And the modern view about transferring ownership of trademarks? Look to the intent of the parties. If they intended to transfer the goodwill associated with one product but not the entire business- that transfer is entirely proper.
Yes the web is wonderful. And no ignorance is not bliss. But for one seeking information- beware of fools gold.