Understanding and Protecting Your Health Club's Intellectual Property
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Paul R. Bedard, Esquire
Health and fitness clubs, like most businesses, benefit from their intellectual property. And, like most industries, the health and fitness club industry is not immune to intellectual property disputes and lawsuits. Therefore, health and fitness clubs must protect their intellectual property, including their trademarks and copyrights. In addition to boosting and protecting your brand, understanding your legal rights and the mechanisms involved in the protection of your intellectual property can also minimize the possibility of a costly lawsuit.
The following is intended to provide a basic overview of trademarks and copyrights, along with some fundamental suggestions for protecting these aspects of your intellectual property. However, this article is not intended as legal advice. This area of law is particularly complex. Please consult an intellectual property attorney for specific direction in this regard.
A trademark is a word, name, phrase, symbol or design that identifies and distinguishes one health and fitness club from another, including club names, slogans, and logos. In other words, your trademark is effectively your brand.
Trademarks do not expire. The rights to a trademark come from the active use of the trademark. However, common law rights to a trademark can be accompanied by limitations, including how these rights are viewed from one legal jurisdiction to another. Therefore, for maximum trademark protection, it is best to register your trademark with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Registering your trademark provides public notice of your claim of ownership of the trademark along with a nationwide presumption of ownership of the trademark.
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