I am frequently asked questions about blogs and trademarks. Blogs are a service, even if they are not for profit and have no way of making money, and blog names can be protected by trademark law. Which means that blog names can be registered as trademarks with the USPTO. For example, this blog is called IPelton® and is a registered trademark. In the USPTO registration, the services for IPelton are described as “On-line journals, namely, blogs featuring information and observations in the fields of law, branding, and intellectual property.”
In 2014, the USPTO saw more than 3,500 applications for trademarks featuring “blog or blogs” in the description of goods and services. Ten years earlier, that number was just 18!
Here are some trademark tips for blog owners:
- Be creative. A creative name is more more likely to be unique and much easier to protect, generally. For example, one of my favorite blog titles is a cheese blog called, It’s Not You, It’s Brie®. Search the internet and the trademark database at USPTO.gov to make sure it is unique in your industry. Check domain name availability and use as well.
- Make it stand out. When using the name, put it in a different font, color, bold or italics to make it stand out. That way it helps demonstrate that the title of the blog is special and that you want to call attention to it and protect it.
- Use proper trademark symbols. Use “SM” on the right shoulder of the title if the name is not registered. If it is registered, use the ® as frequently as possible. Showing others that you are protecting the name makes it a stronger brand and enhances the legal protections for it.
- File to an application with the USPTO to register the trademark for name of the blog.
- Register the corresponding .com domain name, even if you do not intend to use it. The annual cost is worthwhile insurance to prevent someone else from using the .com and causing you headaches and potential legal bills.
- Register the corresponding social media usernames on major social media sites. Even if you never use the names, there is a value in making sure someone else cannot use them.
- Monitor for infringement. Set up a free Google alert or use other methods to check periodically for copycats. If you learn of an infringement, consult with an attorney. If you do not make an effort to stop infringers, your rights in the name will generally be weakened.
Most blogs, like this one, are informational. But they serve several important purposes – enhancing credibility, improving search engine ranking, content creation, marketing, and demonstrating expertise – and thus have a significant value to the author. To protect the investment – of time, energy, and money – in that valuable blog asset, blog owners should strongly consider the tips above including trademark registration.