Are you wondering if you really do need a lawyer, or curious about how I might be able to help?
Check out some real life client stories below. As you’ll see, it’s often the case that
the right time to hire a lawyer is long before you think you need one.
I met a dietary supplement client after they had selected and built a brand around a mark—including investing in marketing, packaging, brand and website development—and filed a trademark application on their own using an online service (without consulting a trademark attorney). That’s when another company filed an opposition to their pending trademark application.
Upon doing some research, I determined that the other company did have superior rights in the mark my client had selected, and a strong legal basis for preventing my client from registering its mark. I often negotiate settlements for my clients in situations like this, trying to allow both parties to continue using their marks. But in this case, the other company wasn’t willing to enter into a coexistence agreement and threatened to sue in federal court.
Recognizing that my client would almost certainly be embroiled in a protracted dispute before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, and possibly dragged into litigation, I advised them to simply walk away from their chosen brand and select a new mark. By doing so, they avoided paying any damages or spending additional resources on legal fees—but it also wasn’t the result they wanted.
In the end, my client rebranded, working with me to clear and select a strong and protectible brand. Ultimately this contributed to their success and made them a good target for investment and acquisition, but only after a costly and time-consuming lesson that I strive to help other companies avoid.
A startup came to me as they were launching a new product and asked me to work with their newly hired designer to vet proposed brands and support the selection of a strong and protectible brand that they could feel good about investing in and that could grow with them. After a few rounds of clearing potential marks, they selected a distinctive brand that set their company apart from their competitors.
By working with me from the outset, my client was able to develop a substantial trademark portfolio that allowed them to distinguish themselves from competitors, expand into new markets, and attract investors. They were confident that if any third parties tried to copy them or use similar branding, they would have sufficient rights to prevent them from doing so.
When they were ready to exit the company, the owners recognized that their intellectual property—their trademark in particular—was one of their most valuable assets, bringing in a substantially higher price than they would have received without such a robust portfolio free of any potential third party claims undermining their rights.
This is the ideal scenario I want for all my clients: early and strong intellectual property protection, maximum value, and excellent options.
A hemp company added the word “organic” to their brand to distinguish it from a competitor, not realizing that this term is federally regulated and may not be used unless certain criteria are met. Their product did not qualify to carry the label, and an environmental watchdog organization named the company in a complaint. That’s when the company brought me in.
I negotiated a favorable settlement that saved my client the hundreds of thousands of dollars a lawsuit would have cost them. Meanwhile, I also helped ensure that going forward, my client’s packaging, labeling, and marketing was compliant, which reduced their risk of receiving similar complaints in the future. Unfortunately this meant throwing away thousands of dollars worth of previous packaging and starting from scratch with some of their marketing.
This experience highlights the importance of working with counsel at the outset to mitigate your risks, along with regularly auditing your branding and marketing practices to assess your risk before you end up named in a complaint.