We’ve been saying for a long time that startups and small businesses need to take intellectual property seriously. Recently we were reminded of a story from 2013, about a young man named Turner Barr who had his trademark stolen by a big corporation.
The thing that struck us about this story is how easily all of this could have been prevented. What ensued for the man in question, was months of agony and stress.
In this post, we’re going to briefly explain to you Turner Barr’s story before telling you the crucial four steps every entrepreneur can take to avoid having his or her trademark stolen by a big corporation.
The Story: How One Man Had His Trademark Stolen By A Big Corporation
The story we’re talking about involves an American gentleman by the name of Turner Barr. Turner created a website called Around The World In 80 Jobs. The short story is that he travelled the world and worked in dozens of different jobs in different countries, and then wrote about his experiences on his blog.
This was his life’s work, his livelihood, and something he’d been doing for a few years at this point.
However, in 2013, world began to crumble around him. A big corporation you may have heard of, called Adecco, came along and stole his idea for Around The World In 80 Jobs. They used it for a new job seekers initiative they were running. They took his entire concept and recruited a lookalike Turner Barr to appear in their promotional videos and marketing materials.
However, this is where the story gets interesting. Adecco trademarked the name, Around The World In 80 Jobs, so Turner and no one else could challenge them for this piece of intellectual property as if it was their own and they didn’t know they were stealing someone else’s work.
You can see here the kind of mental anguish this put Turner through when he found out what had happened. Eventually, after a couple of months of back and forth with Adecco, Adecco ended up publicly apologising to Turner and relinquished their trademark over his brand name and life’s work.
The silly thing in all of this is that Turner needn’t have experienced this in the first place. If, he’d just taken basic steps that every business owner should take to secure their intellectual property, then none of this would have happened.
What should Turner have done to avoid having his trademark stolen by a big corporation?
Read below and you’ll find out.
How To Avoid Having Your Trademark Stolen By A Big Corporation
Want to prevent becoming the next Turner Barr for all the wrong reasons? Then make sure you follow each of these four steps below.
Step 1 – Recognise the value of your business and the work you do
If you don’t even recognise the value of your business and the work you’re doing then you won’t bother to trademark it in the first place. If you’re a startup then we’re hoping that you see the value in what you do, and understand that your work needs to be protected legally.
Step 2 – Speak with a lawyer who specialises in intellectual property (IP) protection
You will need the help of a specialist to secure intellectual property (IP) protection. That help comes in the form of a legal expert who is trained in IP law. An IP lawyer will be able to take a look at your specific circumstances and needs and give you the proper advice to protect your IP, therefore protecting your livelihood.
And please, whatever you do, don’t try to protect your IP with an online downloadable template.
Step 3 – File your trademark and get your IP protected
This is self-explanatory but make sure the lawyer you’re working with helps you with any necessary requirements for trademarking your business. You can read more about what this requires here.
Step 4 – Take care of your IP
Once you’ve got your IP protected, you need to make sure you keep an eye on it so no one is stealing your ideas or any work from you. If you’ve got the capital, then you can set up your own team of legal experts to do this kind of IP policing work for you.
Also, keep in mind that things like trademarks expire after ten years so you’ll need to register it again if you want to keep your trademark valid.
Final Words: Avoid Having Your Trademark Stolen By A Big Corporation
There is nothing worse for a business owner than to go through the experience that Turner Barr went through. The sad thing is, that in most cases where this happens, the corporation wins in the end. Turner was lucky in that he had a large network and extensive public following, which helped him gain massive publicity for his cause and battle with Adecco.
Many startups and small businesses just don’t have that. Avoid these hassles altogether by protecting your IP with a Founder’s Pack. This will give you the core three legal documents you need to protect your IP and business from threat.
Click below to get it today.