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How do you trademark the name and logo of your music band? And should you even bother?
In this video, I'm going to cover the whys, the whens, the whats and the hows of trademarking a music band.
So, what is there in common between Kiss, Great White, Rat, Quinn Strike, and LA Guns? They all had major trademark fights around their brand names, around their band names with their former members and that is a great illustration of why you need to properly trademark the name and the logo for your music band. So let me go through this step by step. The first question is why you need to do this? Well turns out that as the popularity of the band grows, the band name becomes one of the most recognizable parts of the band, sometimes even more than the music and certainly becomes the most valuable part of the band because the music you can play anybody can play the music but only the band can tour under that band name as long as they properly trademark the name. So, the money of the the the money from gigs which today really in today's world where very very very little is paid to musicians in terms of their copyright royalties. They make most of their money doing what? doing the gig, doing the tours, right from the tickets, from live concerts. And in order for you to make that money, you need to make sure that you're the only band that can play the music under the band name. And the more popular the band named the more important it becomes.
What do you think is the value of, for example, Metallica? You know, doing their multimillion-dollar shows. All right, if anybody else could just say, well we're also Metallica, you know, go see us live that would severely diminish their economical value of the entire corporation that Metallica now is. So that's why it's so important for you to own the band name. Similarly with logos. Logos change and I mean it really depends on some bands change logos from album to album. Some bands have the same logo from day one till the day they die and either way as long as you have something recognizable some graphical representation of the band name, you want to own that as well. Because again you want to make sure that nobody else can take advantage and it free ride on the fame that you have built because today when you starting out it may be less important. But as you grow, as your popularity grows, and as you may start facing some disputes with ex-members or new members, you want to make sure you know how to control the use of the band name and the logo.
Now, the next question is who is going to own that brand? because that is crucially important because you may start your band, you know, three or four of you and then years down the road some members will leave, some members will die, and some members will join. And so the question is, who actually owns the name? who actually owns the logo? and this is something that you should consider at the very outset. There's no right and wrong answer. It may be the founder is going to own it. Maybe a couple of founders. Maybe all of them. Maybe Corporation behind them, but it needs to be extremely clear for all of the band members what's going to happen with a band name if one of them leaves? Like I said, there is no right answer. It could be that that's a drummer, you know starts a band and you know, he finds the guitar as the bass player, the vocalist, he comes up with a name. They do something together. They become popular and then the drummer decides to kick everyone else out and bring new people. Right, so can the drummer control the name? maybe, as long as when he invites everybody to join the band in the first place. He said he tells them this is how it's going to be. I own the name. We're going to be in this band. Do you want to be a part of the band to which I own the name? Yes. Yes, great. If no then we have a problem, right but those are contractual issues. That must be resolved early early on. The only reason you wouldn't have those discussions is if you think that you will never ever build something of value, right and it's somewhat similar to prenuptial agreements and you know in marriage but it's probably even more valuable and even more important with the bands because you know marriage is something between two people and it's okay to take risks, sometimes. It's you know, a lot of family lawyers would advise you to never, you know, get married without a contract and maybe they're right. But again, it could be calculated risk right on the part of either the husband or the wife. But with the music band, it's an economical venture. It's a business venture. It's not just about feelings. It's not just about you know, what's going to happen when you grow old. It's about why are you being a band? Why do you have a name? Why do you have a logo? Yeah, a big part of it is because it's fun. But if you're hoping to make this the professional career that's going to make you money. Well, you got to make sure that you take care of all the ins and outs and legalities. So. Make sure you know who owns it and if it's a corporation again, make sure you have all the proper documents, all the eyes, all the t's taken care of because you want to make sure that when somebody leaves that Corporation why it's and for example, they were a shareholder, there is no longer shareholder that again, you know how to control then use all the name by the leaving shareholders. Very very very important. Certainly worth spending some money on a consultation with an attorney who's going to help you design those contracts to make sure that everyone understands what's happening. Right?
So the next question is, where do you trademark? and you want to get a trademark in all the jurisdictions where you think you've got enough of a market to care about it. So if you know and it's also a function of your growth. The bigger the band, the more countries you want to cover with your trademark registration. So like big acts like, you know Metallica and you know, I can name a lot more of those but I don't know what for whatever reason Metallica is the one that comes to mind. They trademarked in a lot of different countries just because they are so big that the brand is so valuable. If you're just starting out if you're playing bars, probably you don't need to trademark your brand and you know in, you know, Africa and maybe Asia. You want to start with maybe US, Canada, maybe Europe. Again, depending on where your tour and they depending on where you think you would tour if you're successful. And there are risks involved. Of course, I mean the the safest bet is to trademark your brand right away everywhere. Well, the problem is most bands don't have the resources to do that and it could be a waste if you start with a global trademark for a band that nobody's ever heard of. But you want to be very paying very close attention to how your music is being adopted and if people actually give a damn and if you see that people start loving you and you started getting better and better gigs, you're starting to get better deals. That's a good that's a good time to say to yourself. Okay? I think this is working out. We got to be sure that we protected before somebody else takes it away from us, right. So again you start with your most valuable markets, your home country and you know the countries where you think you're going to sell more tickets. So that's what you want to do know.
When do you trademark it? is also a good question for someone related to what I just covered. You want to get a trademark before anybody else steals it from you. Because what's available today may not be available tomorrow and the last thing you want is to have your band name copied by some other band and they go in trademark it and then you instead of writing music, instead of doing the shows, all you're doing is you're spending time sitting in depositions and in courtrooms and arguing with somebody else over who came up with the name first why they shouldn't have been allowed to trademark it. All of that stuff can easily be avoided, all you need to do is just follow your trademark early on. So, I wouldn't say you have to do it, you know the first day especially if nobody's heard of you. So like for example, if we are talking about what's called super band right when you got celebrity musicians from different bands joined in a new band that I would trademark before you even announce because you already know there will be interest from the public, there will be interest from the trolls, there will be interest from those who want to take a free ride on the band. If we're talking about people that nobody's ever heard of you're just hoping to become known in the music industry. You don't need to do it on day one, but you need to take care of this as soon as you see that the public is interested. But even then you have to be very clear as to whether you're picking a name that you can even use and you can potentially own and that requires that you do a proper trademark search to see if the name had been trademarked by somebody else already. Whether or not you're going to file your application right away. Which again may be a good idea in your home country. You need to be sure that you're not spending a day building a brand that you can't own. So that's that's what trademark searches for.
Then, when you figured all that out. So, you know the why, you know the who, you know the when, you know the where. What would be well the band name, and maybe the logo as I mentioned and then the next question is how? The next question is how? and this is probably why you are watching this video because it's title “How do you trademark the band name and the logo?” So, the how is pretty much the same as with any other trademark. After you've done your trademark search and made sure that the name is available. You draft a trademark application, you file the trademark application. Then you sit and wait for you wait for many months depending on the country could be as few as two-three months to twelve thirteen months, which is now how long it takes in Canada? For example, US has about three-four, Canada is about 12 13 14 and then wait, wait, wait and after you've waited long enough you hear back from the trademarks office, if everything's okay, which happens in about 30 percent of the cases, they'll send you the notice of approval. And then it will be published for opposition purposes. When anybody can raise their hand and say please don't give this trademark to those people if that doesn't happen then your trademark gets allowed. And once it's allowed, you go through a few post allowance formalities, and then your trademark gets registered. But let me take you back to your filing the application waiting waiting waiting. And like I said 30% get approved but 70% doesn't, don't get approved right away. And in 70% of the cases, you're going to get what's called an office action when the trademarks office says what they don't like about your trademark application and you have to deal with all those objections and if you don't properly deal with those objections, then your application will be refused.
And that's the end of your trademarking process. Just not the way you wanted and assuming you have addressed all those objections. There could be some back and forth between yourself and the trademarks office eventually it may get a lot approved which case again. It will be published for opposition purposes and then very few very few trademark applications ever get a post. We call it a an atomic bomb that almost never goes off. Because they happens in about less than 1% of all trademark applications. But when it does happen, it tends to be extremely long extremely expensive and extremely difficult. But if your brand is worth it, then you don't you do is you do whatever it takes to make sure it gets protected. So let's say it doesn't get apposed like I said, it will be allowed. If it is opposed and you have to fight the opposition with the person who raised her hand and asked the trademarks office not to register your trademark, assuming you survive that. Then it gets allowed. If you don't survive that then again your application will be refused and then assuming that it didn't get opposed or it was opposed but you won but then it gets allowed and then you go through like I said, if you formalities it could be filing a statement of use or paying the registration fee or it could be pretty much automatic you just get your trademark registration certificate. And all you need to do from there is just take care of renewals every 10 years or in US there's an additional filing between the 5th and 6th anniversary of your trademark registration. So that's kind of the trademark registration process in a nutshell which like I said is the same regardless of what you’re trademarking a band name, whether you are trademarking a logo, or a trademarking pretty much anything else.
The one thing I forgot to mention is which class do you go for? So when you file your trademark application, what are the things you need to specify? Not just the trademark itself, but also for which products and services do you want it registered? And that's another thing to take care of usually you'll be class 41, which is entertainment services. This is what you do primarily, right you entertain people. You provide entertainment services people get to know you under that brand but there would be other things that you probably want there. One could be downloadable music. That would be class 9. That could be your swag, right your clothing, class 25. That could be I don't know. Maybe you're going to be selling some other things like, you know bags or or or key chains or some some some other stuff. All of those would go into different classes. And it maybe, it may be other things. So one of the one of the important decisions that you have to make is what do you want your trademark application to cover and like I said, there's always going to be 41 for entertainment. Everything else is the icing on the cake. But as your band grows, as your business of the band grows, that's when you want to start thinking maybe we should file another trademark that would cover other things may be tangible stuff that we need to protect to make sure that nobody else takes it away from us.
So that is the trademarking process in a nutshell in terms of who would do that for you. In theory, you can file your own trademark. You don't need a lawyer. Unless you're not based in the US and you're trying to file US trademark. They've changed their rules recently. And now, if you are a foreign company that's outside of the US, if you need a US trademark, you need to have a US attorney to do that for you. So the second option is, you know, there's a multitude of those websites that will follow your trademark for next to nothing but you usually get what you pay for. You can also use traditional law firms that take care of trademarks. Problem there, of course, is the fees right? Because you're paying them by the hour. They don't really have any incentive to spend less hours on your trademark application because they get paid by the hour. Or you could use the Trademark Factory. With us to get a comprehensive trademark search included in all of our packages. You get one flat fee that covers everything from start to finish. You get a 100% money-back guarantee if the trademark you asked us to help you do does not get approved. So that's really the trademarking process in a nutshell. If you find this video useful, great. Make sure you comment. Make sure you like it. Make sure you subscribe to get notified whenever the next video goes live. And if you are a music band and you want to protect it. You want to protect your brand. The brand of your band, then go to trademarkfactory.com and book your free call with our strategy advisors. They'll help you get started. Until then, I see in the next video.
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Disclaimer: Please note that this post and this video are not and are not intended as legal advice. Your situation may be different from the facts assumed in this post or video. Your reading this post or watching this video does not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and Trademark Factory International Inc., and you should not rely on this post or this video as the only source of information to make important decisions about your intellectual property.