What should I know about clothing line copyrights, trademarks, registering, etc.? 9 Answers as of November 09, 2012

I was trying to start a brand new clothing line and was wondering is it ok to produce it even though it has the same name as a former small line of clothing company but it doesn't have any likeness as it is very unique as far as the logos and designs.

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Yang & Wang, P.C.
Yang & Wang, P.C. | Tommy Wang
Looks like Trademark is the way to go. But you might need to trademark your brand as well as the design of your line.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/9/2012
Eminent IP, P.C.
Eminent IP, P.C. | Paul C. Oestreich
The protection of a line of "clothing" is typically best protected by trademark. Utility patent protection usually does not come into play unless there is something truly "novel and nonobvious" about how the clothing functions. Clothing functionality has been pretty well covered in the prior art, so it is unlikely that utility patent protection would be successful. To the extent that the really clever and creative aspect of your clothing line is its aesthetic appearance, there might be some aspect of your clothing that could be protected by one or more design patents. For example, this is very common in the athletic shoe industry. But, such design patent protection only covers the aesthetic appearance of the object, not how it functions. If there are some artistic aspects to your clothing line, one or more copyright registrations might also be a useful way of further protecting against outright copying of your artistic designs. But, the most obvious protection in my view is through trademark law. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or logo associated with your clothing line that tells the consuming public who the source of the clothing is and establishes a measure of quality and satisfaction associated with your goods over time. This intangible measure of quality or satisfaction is known as "good will". An infringer that wants to take advantage of your "good will" may try to use your trademark or something similar to it, in order to fool or deceive the consuming public that the knock-off clothing is the same quality and reputation as the your clothing. Trademark rights arise from actual use and do not require registration for enforcement. However, a registered trademark has procedural advantages (*e.g.*, presumption of validity, etc.) over an infringer in the context of a dispute or litigation. If the infringer's use of a mark raises a likelihood of confusion in the marketplace, you as the trademark owner can sue for trademark infringement and seek and injunction and/or damages. From the limited facts provided, it is quite possible that you would be free to make and sell the clothing line you wish to produce with your new logos and designs assuming that the new logos and designs would not cause a likelihood of confusion with regard your former clothing line company and that there are no other intellectual property protections held by the former clothing line company. However, the specifics regarding your case are best handled by a trademark attorney that has full access to all of your specific facts and better advise you regarding possible outcomes, such as possible infringement or registration of your new trademarks.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 11/4/2012
Barton Barton & Plotkin
Barton Barton & Plotkin | Maurice Ross
This is probably not ok. Before launching this clothing line, you need to retain counsel to conduct a trademark search. Further, anyone who owns a clothing line must work closely with intellectual property counsel to lay the appropriate strategy
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/31/2012
Ochoa and Associates
Ochoa and Associates | Susan Ochoa Spiering
there are a lot of issues to discuss on this question. You are best to meet with an attorney and determine your ability to use the name as well as other risks you may need to consider.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 10/31/2012
Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
There are two types of trademarks. One is a stylized mark and the other is a word mark. Since both products are in the clothing line there could be a potential for confusion in the market place. You can perform a trademark search at USPTO.gov to determine if the mark is currently valid. You may also want to file for your own mark. Let me know if you have any questions in regard to this issue.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/31/2012
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    It doesn't make good business sense to name your company after an already existing and/or defunct company in the same line of business, especially if you hope to develop a nation-wide market for your clothes. If nothing else, any creditors of the other company may come after you for the unpaid bills of the other business.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 10/31/2012
    Mark S. Hubert PC
    Mark S. Hubert PC | Mark Hubert
    Why don't you just pick your own name and avoid all the hassle. If they have it federally trademarked you will have to change your name. Even if they don't you may still have to change your name. Why would you want to sell clothes under the name of another company?
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/31/2012
    Tran & Associates | Bao Tran
    You can do a copyright application. Perhaps a trade dress, and even patent application if your design has unique functionalities that are novel.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/30/2012
    Webb IP Law Group
    Webb IP Law Group | Jason P Webb
    It is a good idea to do a basic trademark screening search before launching to make sure that you are not stepping on someone else's trademark by using a particular name.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 10/30/2012
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