S2:EP14 Beyoncé and The Crayon Case, A Lesson In How To Make Your Intellectual Property Work For You – The Legal Tea
April 27, 2019

S2:EP14 Beyoncé and The Crayon Case, A Lesson In How To Make Your Intellectual Property Work For You

Last week I was tagged on a Facebook post where a Crayon Case fan posted pictures of school supply themed make up that was for sale in Sephora. That’s right big brands Moschino and Sephora teamed up to rip off the black owned cosmetic brand. I was heartbroken when I saw the pictures. Now what I do know is that Supa’s customers are super loyal to her, so they won’t be jumping ship to purchase these knock off product but it’s bigger than that. 

We’ve seen brands like Pillsbury register their trademark for the giggle the dough boy makes. T-Mobile cellular trademark the magenta pink that is used in its marketing. The Dry bar has a registered trademark for the design of its salons. Pepperidge Farm has a registered trademark for their goldfish shaped snacks. Play-Doh has a trademark for the scent of their modeling clay (because to reference all modeling clay as Play-Doh is a trademark no no)

Just as these companies took steps to protect various aspects of their brand that were unique in their market the same options are available to you and me. If Supa’s biggest concern was someone copying her school supply theme packaging she could have taken steps to protect it through a form of trademark registration known as trade dress.

Trade dress is a type of trademark that refers to the image and overall appearance of a product. It protects the visual aspects of the brand’s product or packaging. Here’s what you must have to qualify for trade dress protection

  1. A unique visual appearance that consumers readily identify with your company
  2. The features that you’re looking to protect cannot be functional. Meaning if the feature is necessary in order for the product to work, it can’t be protected.

Popular examples of trade dress include Coco cola’s glass bottle, the iPhone’s rectangular shape and rounded corners, and interesting enough Moschino has trade dress protection for the shape of one its perfume bottles.

Here are the three points I want you to take away from today’s episode:

1. Protecting your intellectual property puts you in position to earn more money by leveraging your assets. Look how Beyoncè flipped a 5-million-dollar performance into over $20 million

2. Trademarks protect more than just words and logos. Trademarks also protect sound, smell, color, and shapes

3. While common law trademarks offer some protection you need a federal trademark to exercise your authority to exclude throughout the United States

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