Why Trademarking is Important for Your Brand
Trademarking your brand is a crucial step in the brand building process. We’re surprised when we talk to developers and publishers and learn that they’ve either no interest or haven’t even considered trademarking as part of their brand building strategy.We’re not lawyers. So we’re not here to tell you all the nuances of trademarking law. Rather we’re here to help your brand by reminding you that investing in trademarking could pay off huge dividends for your brand in the future.
For starters, let’s look at what trademarking is defined as
Trademarking: A trademark is a recognizable insignia, phrase, word, or symbol that denotes a specific product and legally differentiates it from all other products of its kind. A trademark exclusively identifies a product as belonging to a specific company and recognizes the company’s ownership of the brand.
Let’s explore what that means for us in the gaming world.
Trademarking is usually reserved for forward facing brands. For example, you’d want to trademark the name Blizzard but you wouldn’t want to trademark the name of a holding company that has stake in Blizzard. Blizzard is the forward facing brand. While the holding company is a behind the scene investor that isn’t exposed to the public eye. One very important thing to mention is that trademarking applies in the trade or craft you’re trademarking in. So if you are Dairy Queen and want to call your signature milkshake “Blizzard” and copyright that name, you can go ahead and do that.
Trademark all the things!
Now, that isn’t to say that all folks can trademark is a brand name. You can trademark things like the use of a certain color as a background or in the case of certain communication materials. You can also trademark logos, mascots, slogans, taglines, technology, and music that are used to communicate your brand to customers or audiences. Think about the Lucas Ltd sound introduction or the Netflix sound when you watch a show or movie. Think about the slogans “I’m lovin’ it” for McDonald’s or “Pizza, Pizza!” for Little Ceaser’s. Think about the Apple, Microsoft, or IBM logos. We bet you can identify each an every one of those things we asked to think about if we showed them to you. That’s the power of trademarking your brand.
So now let’s go back to gaming. In the example above, Blizzard is a trademarked video game publisher name. That means that if a video game studio decides to name their company Epic Blizzard, they’ll be sure to be receiving a copyright infringement letter from an Activision lawyer. And in trademarking how long a brand has been trademarked matters a whole bunch. So then, for new players in the game how the heck could they know if the name they’re choosing for their company isn’t already in use? That’s where patent lawyers come in. For a fee, they’ll look up your desired company name in the industry of choice, and make recommendations based on the results. They’ll usually also help you file all the trademark paperwork. You are certainly free to ignore those recommendations, but then you risk the possibility of having to change your company name once you’ve established your brand. Basically, you hit the reset button and start the very difficult process of branding from scratch.
We know some great patent lawyers. If your company is looking at trademarking, give our good friends over at David Lizerbram & Associates a call. Their website is also full of helpful tips and information about trademarking.