You Catch More Flies with Honey than Vinegar

This article was originally published by the Asheville Brewers Alliance Blog and written by McGuire Wood & Bissette’s trademark attorney, Rebecca Crandall.

Rebecca Crandall Trademark AttorneySpring is here, and so are the insects. This always reminds me of some of my best client advice regarding trademarks: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Are you still boycotting Bells to support Innovation?  Do you still give the side eye to Lagunitas IPA?  These breweries and many more have gotten caught up in trademark disputes in a very public way, and it didn’t have to happen that way.

A quick visit with a knowledgeable trademark attorney will help you sort out exactly what rights you have and how to protect them.

• DO work with an experienced trademark attorney to federally register your marks as and when appropriate.

A federal registration increases the value of your business, provides nationwide notice of your rights, and deters others from infringing on your rights.  A trademark specialist, as opposed to a general business attorney, will help ensure you don’t risk your rights through being unable to respond to office actions, committing accidental fraud (e.g., obtaining registration for a mark you haven’t used), or failing to maintain your registration.

• DON’T be too hasty to send off a nasty cease and desist letter no matter how you feel.

Sometimes your rights aren’t what you think they are, and you’ll save a lot of money and hassle if you take the time to understand and correctly explain your position from the beginning. Also keep in mind the personality and experience of the attorney with whom you work.  Not all are well versed in trademark law, and a few are more focused on keeping their clients happy rather than digging into the facts of a situation.

• DO consider a friendly business to business approach when you run into trouble.

People are less likely to feel defensive and angry if they’re approached by another business owner rather than an attorney, so the end result should be faster and easier to achieve. That said, do discuss your approach with your trademark attorney before you contact someone to make sure your position is accurately represented.

Rebecca is passionate about assisting breweries with protecting their intellectual property. Click here to learn more about Intellectual Property and Trademark attorney Rebecca Crandall.