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Merchandise and IP: What do I need to know?

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2022 | Intellectual Property

Business leaders who sell services or products likely know the importance of merchandise. Branded merchandise is any product that contains your business’ logo or name and can include apparel like hats and t-shirts as well as cups and can coolers. Having merchandise can serve two purposes: cost-effective marketing and increase brand recognition. Use of branded merchandise can also increase customer loyalty.

Jumping into the merch side of business operations is not necessarily difficult, almost anyone can contract a vendor to make some t-shirts, but business leaders are wise to protect their interests when taking this step.

One important thing to account for is the need for intellectual property protections.

What types of intellectual property (IP) protection are helpful for merchandise?

Legal tools are available to help protect IP. Two examples that are helpful when attempting to protect merchandise include:

  • Trademark: If you are looking to build the business into a recognized name, it is helpful to make sure your business has trademark protections. This better ensures competitors do not attempt to profit of off your business’ name or logo.
  • Patent: This legal tool serves to exclude others from making or selling any patented invention. This is helpful for certain types of merchandise, such as a toy with a special mechanism that makes the product move.

If your business finds success, competitors will likely try to join in on the profits — potentially in ways that infringe upon your intellectual property protections. You have options for recourse if this happens. This can include sending a demand letter, telling the competitor to cease and desist the infringing actions, or moving forward with litigation.

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