the podcast recap episode with aj & rory vaden

Ep 495: Trademarks. Do I Really Need One? | Autumn Witt Boyd Episode Recap

Listen to the episode below

Do you want to know how to protect your personal brand? Whether you’re a content creator or you have a unique methodology or framework for your business, this episode is for you! We recently spoke with Autumn Witt Boyd, an IP attorney and the Founder of The AWB Firm, who specializes in helping business owners safeguard their creations. Tune in to hear Autumn’s insights on what you need to do even before you get started, practical tips for protecting your personal brand as you grow, when to consider a trademark or copyright (and the differences between them), and much more!

Key takeaways from this episode

  • The importance of thorough research and starting with a “clean slate.”
  • How to begin safeguarding your brand without an attorney.
  • Using the power of the internet to your advantage.
  • What you need to do to protect your book title.
  • Necessary next steps to trademark and copyright your business.

Tweetable Moments

“If you’re in the very beginning stages of your business and you haven’t come up with a name – this is the best place to start: make sure you’re starting on solid ground and there’s nothing else in the marketplace that is already being actively used.” — @aj_vaden [0:03:19]

“When you come up with [a title], before you get emotionally invested in it, do availability tests and make sure it’s available because starting with a clean slate is one of the most important things you can do to have a [secure] brand.” — @aj_vaden [0:09:33]

“Do the due diligence, get an attorney, file your trademark, and protect your brand.” — @aj_vaden [0:10:44]

About Autumn Witt Boyd

Autumn Witt Boyd graduated in the top 10% of her class from Vanderbilt University Law School (a Top 20 law school) before ultimately landing as a senior associate at the premier copyright litigation law firm for photographers and stock photography agencies.

After spending the first 10 years of her career battling over copyrights and business issues in courtrooms across the U.S., Autumn left BigLaw behind to start the AWB Firm in 2015 so she could spend her days helping entrepreneurs build, protect, and scale their businesses the right way, instead of fighting with other lawyers.

Links Mentioned

Online Course: Finding Your Brand DNA

AWB Firm

AWB Firm on Instagram

Autumn Witt Boyd on LinkedIn

Autumn Witt Boyd on X

Sign Up for ‘The CEO Legal Brief’ Newsletter

The Legal Roadmap Podcast

AJ Vaden on LinkedIn

AJ Vaden on Twitter

Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden on LinkedIn

Rory Vaden on Twitter

Take the Stairs

Brand Builders Group

Brand Builders Group Free Call

Brand Builders Group Resources

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Stitcher

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Apple

AJV (00:02): So wanna know how to protect your personal brand. I just got off of an awesome conversation with a friend of mine, autumn Witt Boyd, who is the founder and owner of a WB law firm, which is kind of a unique law firm in the personal brand space that she really caters to people who have personal brands, courses, books, keynotes, podcasts but anyone who would consider themselves a content creator. So if you’re listening to this going, I don’t know if I’m a content creator, I’m an entrepreneur or a small business owner. If you have a methodology or a framework to your business, this applies to you. You are a content creator. If you have a robust website or our blogs or you put out a bunch of free content, guess what? You’re a content creator even if you don’t think you are. AJV (00:50): And so we had this amazing conversation on the influential personal brand podcast, and I thought it was worthy enough to recap it in a shorter conversation of just how do you protect your personal brand? And one of the first things that we should really consider is how do we do that in a proactive manner, right? So there’s things to do on the backend. Those are always more time consuming and more expensive. So what are some of the things that we can, as we’re getting started, or even before we get started to protect our personal brands? So, couple of quick things that I thought were just worthwhile to share with you guys. Number one, make sure that you’re starting from a clean slate, right? So if you’re in the very beginning phases of your business and you haven’t come up with even a name for your business or your personal brand, or a title for a book, a keynote, a course, a, a curriculum, a framework, a methodology, whatever it is, right? AJV (01:43): This is the best place to start, is make sure that you’re starting on, you know, solid ground. And there’s, there’s nothing else in the marketplace that’s already being actively used, right? And there’s some nuance to that, but I just thought this was a good, healthy checklist is as you’re, as you’re coming up with the name or the title for your things, right? So again, those are variety of things, right? Could be company name, brand name book title, course title, keynote title, podcast title. Just think titles, right? Names brands, right? Brands have names. So these, these are some things you wanna just do to make sure you’re just clean slate. Don’t need to worry about anything later. ’cause I know from experience, once you get attached to something, there is emotional involvement and it also feels like starting over, even though you’re not, if you have to come up with a new name for something. So let’s just make sure that the name you’re coming up with is one that’s gonna last the test of time because some, it’s not in use somewhere else. Okay? that’s the first thing is start with the US office of patents and trademarks, right? Make sure that no one else already has this in use or has an active trademark. Perhaps it’s expired or whatever, but just make sure AJV (02:59): That that’s a first round filter as you’re kind of going through what we call the title tests. This is what we call the availability test, right? So if you’re a part of the Brand Builders Group community we talk about this and finding your brand DNA, which we did trademark. So on that note this is one of the five title tests. And one of the things is going, is it available? Don’t take something that’s not available. So that’s the first round filter. Is it trademark, right? Is it already active and in use by someone else with a, with a legal trademark? Number two do a thorough Google search, right? These are DIY things. You don’t have to have an attorney to do these things, which means it costs your time, but it’s saving you dollars. So do a thorough Google search. AJV (03:42): What do I mean by thorough? Go at least to pages 5, 6, 7 on Google to see if anything pops up. And for all intents and purposes, screenshot all of the work so that you have proof. Make sure that when you’re screenshotting things, it shows the date on your calendar of like, Hey, on this date, right? Screenshots, also share dates. Don’t delete that, right? Label it with the date. But it’s better if it can share. Show your calendar for proof. But those are really important. Same thing with the US Office of Patent and trademarks. Whatever you can do to have proof that on this date, this is what I took, this is my proof, my documentation. Same thing with Google. Because to today, it might not be there, but a week from now it might, right? So it’s always good when you came up with something to make sure that you’re, you’re just taking the one extra step of documentation for proof and just wanna put those in your archive files. AJV (04:39): Save ’em for a rainy day, hopefully you’ll never need ’em. Third thing is check social media platforms for that title, right? So, you know, I use the brand title better than ever, so I’ll just use that, right? Not in use on anything with Google. It was not trademarked. It was there’s no podcasts, there’s no books, there’s, you know, there’s all the things, right? So that’d be the next thing. Do an Amazon search and just see if it’s in use. One of the things that we talk about on the podcast interview with Autumn Whit Void is just because it’s a book title does not mean you can’t use it. Doesn’t mean you should, but you cannot trademark a book title by itself. You have to have an entire series of things for it to actually get trademarked. So it cannot just be a book title. So if you have a book title and a keynote title and a course title all with the same title, now that’s a brand, but a book is not a brand. So you cannot trademark a book title. So just because it pops up doesn’t mean you can’t use it. It just doesn’t mean you should, right? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should always. So you just wanna go and, and do the, the due diligence, right? If it was an Amazon book that was released 10 years ago AJV (05:57): And five people bought it and there’s no reviews, but the, you know, just use your common sense knowledge there of like what you should and shouldn’t do. But, you know, those are things that you wanna check, right? So check for book titles just to go, like if you find it there, then pull up the website, right? Is it in use? Is there anything else in there? Even if they don’t have a trademark, is it in use elsewhere? Because you don’t wanna be competing about what someone else already has claim over. There’s enough ideas and enough other titles that we can come up with. So those are just things to pay attention to. Next one is do a podcast search, right? So go through the iTunes library or wherever you listen to your podcast and do some title searches. And go, Hey, is this title being used here? AJV (06:42): Right? So you wanna be doing you know, clearly the US patent and trademark search. You wanna do Amazon search a good thorough five to six page deep Google search do a podcast search and then you know, the social media, right? And then do it for anything that would be on handles on the primary platforms that you would be using, right? So if you’re gonna have a YouTube channel, make sure it’s not in use on anything else’s, right? Make sure this isn’t someone’s handle on Instagram or make sure this isn’t a title actively in use on LinkedIn. So those are some of the key places that will just help you make sure that when you come up with something before you get emotionally invested in it do these availability tests and make sure that it’s available. ’cause Starting with a clean slate is one of the most important things you can do to have a good secure brand. AJV (07:35): And then it also gives you proof when you do all this documentation that you were first in use, right? So there is this idea of there is a race to use. In other words, there is a race to who’s gonna use it first, be the first. And if you’re gonna do it, then last but not least, take the necessary steps to get what you can trademarked or copyright, right? That doesn’t mean everything needs to be, but if you’re gonna have an entire brand bill around something, take the few hundred dollars or a couple thousand dollars even and protect that. If that’s gonna be something that is gonna make you money, it’s gonna stay in the test of time. In other words, you’re gonna be using it for a while and you have an emotional investment in it, then it is worth the time and the money ’cause it’s gonna take time to do it and some money. AJV (08:24): But if this is your business title, your brand title, it is worth it. So once you find that it is clear, it’s available, it’s in use, take that next step. Do the due diligence, get an attorney and file your trademark and protect your brand, right? The more you do it on the front end, the less expensive it’s gonna be later on. So how do you protect your brand, make sure it’s really yours, and then take the next step to legally protect it, to make sure that you get to keep that brand and nobody else can take it from you.

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