EP53 - Protecting Your Fashion Business - Legal Q & A with Melissa DagodagMar 02, 2021
Photo by Olivier Le Moal via Getty Images Pro
What happens if someone steals my name?
What happens if someone sues?
What are design patents?
Like many of you, I was terrified of owning my own business because there were just so many questions I didn’t know how to answer.
Don’t worry as Melissa Dagodag is here to help talk you off that ledge and break down what it means to make sure your business is YOUR business.
In this episode of the FastTrack Your Fashion Brand Podcast, I sit down with Melissa and have her answer questions surrounding how to make sure my business is my business. Melissa is a Business Intellectual Property lawyer and has been on the council of BCBG, she knows all the lingo behind intellectual property and loves to help creatives and individuals to help maintain and own their ideas. I know Melissa can help you protect your branding and your fashion line! She is a powerful voice in the industry and I’m so excited for you to listen in and learn!
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL HEAR ABOUT
- The difference between a Trademark and Copyright
- How do you know if your brand is unique?
- Are NDA’s important?
- What is a Design Patent and do you need it?
- Is your brand protected globally?
What Is the Difference Between a Trademark and Copyright?
I’m so glad you asked! Because before I hired my lawyer, I truly couldn’t tell you the difference.
A Trademark, or the little ™ you see often behind a brand name, is how you know that a product is exclusively owned by that business. Trademarks are linked to goods and services, so if you’re selling hoodies, jewelry, or swimwear, this is what you need to protect your business from someone pretending to be you.
Having a Trademark allows you to do business without worrying that someone is going to come in and steal your name and customers. It also helps your customers know exactly what quality they are getting because they know your brand and the kind of products you produce.
Copyright is something you get that pertains to protecting the reproduction of tangible media; this could be a piece of art, graphic, written work etc.
This could include a brand selling your graphic design on a T-shirt without your permission or it could come down to someone displaying a work of yours without credit or without permission.
So What Can You Do to Protect Your Brand?
I know as designers we can sometimes get caught up in the beauty and uniqueness of our own designs and products…
Nope? Just me?
Okay well, regardless, when you are designing you need to have a brand that shares your designs with the world, and one of the ways to start doing the work to make that brand your own begins with research.
Whether it’s the spelling of your brand name, the font choice, or the tagline that comes with your brand, make sure that you do the research in google before getting too attached to the idea.
Researching in Google can look like spelling your name different ways, adding some extra words or numbers, just to see what’s out there, and prevent a Cease and Desist letter down the road.
This will also help you know if there are any other goods or services using your name that might get confusing later, even if their product line isn’t in fashion specifically.
Protecting Your Brand
Protecting your brand can take many different forms. Melissa and I both recommend starting with a Trademark so that your name, the most recognizable part of your brand, is protected first.
Once you trademark your brand, you can decide how much farther you want to protect your name and assets. This can look like working with factories that sign an NDA so that your designs aren’t leaked to other companies before you’ve patented it. Or it could look like getting a Design Patent right out of the gates to make sure that your unique product remains protected.
Obviously, there are costs and legalities to all of these options, but it's so important to know that you have options and rights to protect your business.
Need immediate legal advice?
08:05-11:12 - Introducing Melissa
11:17-13:50 - Trademarks and Copyrights
13:55-14:00 - Doing the Research
15:15-21:34 - Some of the Legal Risks
21:38-35:25 - How to Further Protect Your Brand
35:30-37:03 - RECAP!
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