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Best route for getting a time sensitive slogan out to the masses?
April 17, 2013 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I have a ridiculously amazing, yet time sensitive slogan regarding a current event that I'd like to get out there real quick like. But I have some questions...

I've spoken to a friend's trademark lawyer down in LA and since there's no product set up that the slogan would be attached to, I can't trademark it. I'm thinking my best bet is to have my lawyer draw up confidentiality and royalty agreements and then present those to the largest online retailer of this type of stuff. Obviously, only if they're willing to sign would I present them with the idea(s).

a) would those agreements be enough to keep them from simply copying my idea?
b) do you have any better ideas for getting something like this out there to the most amount of people quickly - on tshirts, bumper stickers, mugs, etc.?

I've also registered the slogan's domain, if that mattes.

Thanks in advance.
posted by gman to Work & Money (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
"there's no product set up that the slogan would be attached to..."

What about tshirts, bumper stickers, mugs, etc?
posted by kidbritish at 12:03 PM on April 17, 2013


Sorry, what I meant by that is that there's no existing brand I own in that space that I can attach it to, thereby making it impossible to trademark.
posted by gman at 12:06 PM on April 17, 2013


The domain seems like your best bet. I can't imagine that you'd be able to get large online retailers to sign some sort of royalty agreement for a slogan that they haven't heard yet. Why would it be worth their time to even talk to you, let alone have their lawyers draw up a contract, let alone sign the thing?

But if you get it out there, and it goes big, then the domain could be worth something to someone.
posted by alms at 12:07 PM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm thinking my best bet is to have my lawyer draw up confidentiality and royalty agreements and then present those to the largest online retailer of this type of stuff. Obviously, only if they're willing to sign would I present them with the idea(s).

I can't imagine any company in its right mind signing such a document without knowing what it's getting in return.
posted by jon1270 at 12:07 PM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


> I can't imagine that you'd be able to get large online retailers to sign some sort of royalty agreement for a slogan that they haven't heard yet. Why would it be worth their time to even talk to you, let alone have their lawyers draw up a contract, let alone sign the thing?

The largest retailers of this type of slogan are fairly mid-size actually i.e. 3 million in revenue/year, so nothing huge. And they do claim to accept ideas.

As for the contracts, I'm more than happy to have my lawyer draw them up.
posted by gman at 12:11 PM on April 17, 2013


I worked for a fairly well known consumer product company and we never took unsolicited ideas because of the potential for "they stole my idea" claims.
posted by agatha_magatha at 12:11 PM on April 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


print a shirt on zazzle or cafe press or local t-shirt shop. You can get that done today. Trademark that.

A trademark application is remarkably simple to fill it out, you just have show a picture of the physical item.

Even if it's time sensitive, a trademark application takes many months to review. Trademark whatever you can now, get the product out, fight with someone later.
posted by unexpected at 12:14 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


> print a shirt on zazzle or cafe press or local t-shirt shop. You can get that done today. Trademark that.

Wouldn't putting it up on one of those sites leave me very open to immediate copycats? Are you saying that if I take the design to my local shop and have them print it, I can simply use a photo of that to trademark it? Is a one-off that hasn't been used for commercial purposes as of yet able to be trademarked?
posted by gman at 12:33 PM on April 17, 2013


Why don't you make a few runs of a shirt and trademark it, then put it out to the public? Then you essentially do have a "product" don't you?
posted by Crystalinne at 12:42 PM on April 17, 2013


(Not your lawyer and all that, and not a trademark lawyer for that matter)

There is a category of federal trademark registration called "intent-to-use." You can read about it in this primer from the USPTO. Basically, you file to protect your mark and you have to demonstrate that you have a bona fide intent to use it in commerce. You can prove that in a number of ways, including future use after filing.

There's cost involved, but getting your registration in is the clearest way to demonstrate your priority for the mark and should provide you with a decent shield against theft from the licensee-target businesses.
posted by AgentRocket at 12:49 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, you can use that photo to trademark it. I have used pictures of CD's with product names on them to trademark software titles.

again, no one will notice your t-shirt design. Most of these sites are automated. You can even take a marker on the t-shirt and write the slogan. take a picture of it. file the trademark application.

The trademark application will take 6 months to review. The trademark office might come back and say, "we don't like this picture, please take another one" - in which case you do and move on.

Oh yeah, IANAL and all that!
posted by unexpected at 12:49 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why can't you copyright it?
posted by uncaken at 12:53 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


> again, no one will notice your t-shirt design. Most of these sites are automated. You can even take a marker on the t-shirt and write the slogan. take a picture of it. file the trademark application.

Right, and what you're saying is that once the trademark is approved, I can go back and take legal action against anyone who did copy it?

> Why can't you copyright it?

I don't have an answer for that. Anyone?

Another issue might be the fact that I'm taking a very well known expression, changing one word, and adding a specific graphic. Is that unique enough to trademark/copyright?
posted by gman at 12:58 PM on April 17, 2013


Wouldn't putting it up on one of those sites leave me very open to immediate copycats?

This is going to be a difficult problem to solve no matter what. Plenty of huge companies with armies of lawyers have a very hard time stamping out cheap knockoffs of their trademarked products. For example, sports teams make a large percentage of their profits in merchandise licensing, but you can find knockoff unlicensed merchandise for those same teams everywhere (online, in brick and mortar stores, on street corners, etc.).
posted by burnmp3s at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2013


I think you might be putting the cart before the horse here. Million dollar ideas (especially of the catchy slogan variety) are a dime a dozen. The monetary reward comes from capitalizing on something. If your slogan is great, put it on a shirt and sell them. You can use some of the money to fight knock-off designs in court if you like, but you're probably much better off not worrying about it.

Honestly, if you were in as position where getting your slogan trademarked were really necessary you wouldn't be asking about it here. You are much better off spending your energy producing whatever you want to produce than trying to "protect" your idea.
posted by Jawn at 2:00 PM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Uh, yeah, what AgentRocket said. I am frankly surprised that your lawyer didn't raise intent-to-use as an option. The USPTO has information on it, or read this. Usual disclaimers apply.
posted by exogenous at 2:11 PM on April 17, 2013


A company won't take a meeting with you about an idea for a slogan. If you seriously think it's worth something then start selling merchandise featuring the slogan. If people like it they'll buy it. If it's really popular other people will start copying it. Great. Now you have a nascent business. Come up with lots more ideas and keep on marketing them to people. You'll need to come up with lots and lots of ideas.

Why don't people take meetings with people about "ideas"? Because if you are a company in an industry you're always coming up with ideas yourself. In fact you might already be working on an idea that is basically the same as the person who wants to meet with you. Or you might have come up with the idea ages ago but realised (due to actually having experience in the industry) that it's a non starter or otherwise really hard to execute. Or you might be sitting on it for now because you don't think it's ready to execute... but it might be in 3 years. So this person wants you to pay them for an idea that you've got sitting in a drawer somewhere, and now they're going to threaten to sue you if you do decide to pull it out sometime in the future? Nope, you just don't meet with them. It's almost never worth your time anyway.
posted by aychedee at 2:25 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Excellent ideas abound. The money's in successfully executing ideas. Take your idea, market it, work hard to sell it, and if it's great, you'll get orders.
posted by theora55 at 2:33 PM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Why can't you copyright it?

I don't have an answer for that. Anyone?


Short phrases, slogans, catchphrases and other short expressions are not eligible for federal copyright protection, see U.S. Copyright Office Circular 34.
posted by RichardP at 3:13 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


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