For small businesses, your image which is usually protected in a trademark, is your lifeblood and an indispensable part of your business which you have thoughtfully crafted to make you more competitive in the marketplace. Your brand, identity, and product are all wrapped up into your image and creates a mental connection for consumers between you and your product or services.
While not involving small businesses, a current example of the importance of a trademark to protect a business recently made frontpage news. Sesame Street, the famed children’s show, has filed a lawsuit in federal court against filmmaker, STX Productions, to protect Sesame Street’s trademark claiming STX utilized their protected trademark in their movie trailer for “The Happytime Murders.” The new film apparently shows puppet characters snorting drugs, committing murder, working as prostitutes, swearing, gambling and engaging in obscene sex scenes. Sesame Street claims the violation arises from the promotion of film with the unauthorized use of the Sesame Street mark and tagline, “No Sesame. All Street.” The plaintiff claims the use of Sesame Street’s registered trademark implies and leads consumers to believe that Sesame Workshop is affiliated with and is endorsing the movie. Sesame Workshop claims their brand of being a wholesome television show for children for over 50 years suffers from appearing to be associated with the movie and poses irreparable injury to Sesame's mark and brand.
Protecting a trademark and brand of your business requires your Company to file with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), monitor potential violations of your trademark, and maintain your trademark. This important business asset should be more than an afterthought.