As we discussed last week, federal registration gives you many benefits and it is the most cost-effective way to protect your brand. Once you have those registrations in hand, however, it is important to periodically take stock in what you own and what you are (or are no longer) using. This can help you identify (1) new brands that can be exploited, potentially opening up new lines of licensing revenue, (2) vulnerabilities in your current trademark practices that could expose you to the risk of litigation, and (3) cost savings by identifying marks that are no longer in use and discontinuing their maintenance and enforcement. Proactively maintaining your trademark portfolio can also help you avoid surprises. Imagine discovering that an important trademark registration has lapsed only through the due diligence being conducted by a potential buyer of your station or station group. Not only is that an embarrassing position to be in, but it could compromise your valuation and your negotiating power.
Now that we have hopefully convinced you that conducting a trademark audit is a worthwhile effort, here are five easy DIY steps that will set you in the right direction:
Identify your registered marks. The first step in a trademark audit is to identify any federal and state registered marks you own. Gather up a complete list of your active federal and state registrations and any pending applications. If you need help identifying what marks you own, your trademark attorney can help you by running a search in the federal and state databases.
Identify what marks you use, but have not registered. Do you have any marks that are/have been heavily promoted, but are not registered? If so, consider whether filing a state or federal application would make sense.
Tip: When trying to assess whether a mark or logo is being used as a trademark, look to see whether it’s something that consumers or advertisers will associate with your goods or services. Think broadly – it could be a logo, the name of a show, a tagline, a radio show host’s name, an element of your social media branding, your app logo, etc. Consider whether you have any non-traditional marks, such as sound marks (think of the NBC chimes). If in doubt, catalog the mark and call your trademark counsel for an assessment.
Identify your media outlets. Take stock of all potential places where you might be using your marks, such as websites, over-the-air, in advertisements or marketing brochures, etc.
Assess how the marks are being used. Review all of your media outlets carefully. Are your registered marks being used as registered, and for the services for which they are registered? Is proper notice being made (g., use of the ® symbol)? Take special note of any punctuation inconsistencies or design differences –small discrepancies can create big problems! Do the terms and conditions for your website provide notice of your trademark rights and include a warning that visitors are not free to copy your marks and use them for any purpose without your permission?
Tip: It is critical to review the description of goods and/or services in a given registration to assess whether the mark is being used as described. If you are using the mark in a new way due to changes in technology or marketing strategies, then you may need to file another application to obtain adequate protection for your mark. For example, a radio station may have its call letters registered for “radio broadcasting services” in Class 38, but that registration arguably would not cover a downloadable streaming app. With today’s rapidly evolving technology, you may be using technologies that didn’t even exist when you first filed your trademark application.
Assess what marks are registered but no longer in use. You can save some money in legal costs by identifying those marks that are registered, but are no longer in use.
There are other steps you can take as well, such as collecting examples of each mark in use, confirming that the chain of ownership in your registrations is accurate, reviewing the terms of your licensing agreements to ensure that they adequately protect you, etc., but the steps outlined above will get you started. Of course, if you need help or have questions along the way, just ask your friendly trademark attorney.
For more in our series on trademark issues, see Part One on what a trademark is and why it is important. Part Two talked about the importance of trademark searches. Part Three, as set out above, dealt with the benefits of Federal trademark registration. Part Five will run in the next MAB News Briefs, the week of January 9, 2017.
It’s time for the MAB Foundation’s most popular and highly attended career fair and we want YOU to be a part of the action! The number one request from our stations is assistance with gaining new employee leads and that is exactly what participation in this career fair will give you!
DATE & LOCATION Wednesday, March 8, 2017
During the Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference & EXPO (GLBC)
The Lansing Center, Lansing MI
Yearly MABF Career Fairs seek to connect employers and schools with potential employees, students and interns; and to assist stations with the current EEO requirements.
This event attracts hundreds of students and young professionals eager to meet with YOU and continue their career journey in the broadcast and media industries.
Each booth is $275 and includes a co-sponsorship of the event. As a co-sponsor, you will be helping to offset the cost of the fair. As a participant, you will help to promote the event to your students, listeners and viewers by sharing event information prior to the day of the event. You can do this by airing your own PSAs, if you have a station, or by adding your involvement into any press promotion. Your assistance in promoting this career fair is vital to the success of the event. For stations, keep track of everything you air for your EEO records and send the MABF a copy of your affidavits.
The Scripps Howard Foundation is looking for journalists to enter to win one of its annual awards.
Depending on the category, the competition is open to television or radio stations, online news sites or websites, broadcast or cable networks, any newspaper that published in print or online three or more times a week in 2016, cable systems, wire services, news syndicates, syndication or program services, or news magazines.
The awards have been around since 1953 to recognize outstanding journalism across multiple platforms. This year’s awards feature 15 journalism categories with total cash prizes of $180,000. The Scripps Howard Awards event will take place on April 12, 2017 in Cincinnati.
Along with the investigative reporting, breaking news, community journalism, environmental journalism, public service, photojournalism and other categories, there’s a Topic of the Year category focusing on the 2016 Presidential Election.
The deadline to submit is Feb. 10, 2017. Click here for details.
ENTRY DEADLINE! Friday, December 16, 2016 by 3:00pm
Make sure to review the online entry portal ASAP so you or your students have time to ask us any questions!
The Student Broadcast Awards Ceremony will take place during the Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference (GLBC) Student Luncheon in Lansing at the Lansing Center on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. This Main Luncheon will include the awards presentation and scholarship presentation and is attended by broadcast professionals, students and guests. The popular GLBC Career Fair will immediately follow the luncheon, which will also include an area for students to network and mingle.
Contact the MAB Foundation office with any questions at [email protected] or via phone to 517.484.7444.
This year’s Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference is all about Reframing your Perspective, and has been designed to inspire YOU with…
National caliber speakers and educational sessions.
Innovative technology on display in the exhibit hall.
Prime networking events.
Awards and recognition for your hard work.
This is your chance to shake off the daily grind, and be inspired!
Complete information, including registration available here.
The MAB is proud to announce the 2017 GLBC Keynote Speaker, Phil Gwoke, Bridgeworks:
When Generations Connect: Communicating Across Generational Divides Presented by Phil Gwoke, Bridgeworks
Four distinct generations are working together shoulder to shoulder, each with a unique set of attitudes, values and work styles. It used to be that older workers were bosses and younger ones took orders. Now, roles are all over the board and rules are being rewritten. Organizations are feeling the pain of generations as they struggle to manage productivity and morale while maintaining high standards of quality and service in a challenging economy. Phil will demonstrate not only why it’s important to understand what shaped the generations, but why they behave the way they do.
Find out how generation gaps hit the bottom line
Learn what to do about the approaching talent gap
Grasp the keys to retaining the generations you need most
Discover how to convert this form of diversity from an obstacle into an opportunity
By: Curtis LeGeyt, EVP, Government Relations National Association of Broadcasters
I wanted to let you all know that the Senate went out of session for the year early Saturday morning (12/10), and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was not reconfirmed. This means her term will expire at the end of 2016 and we will begin the next Administration with either a 2-2 or 2-1 FCC, depending on the date on which Chairman Wheeler steps down (Editor note: Chairman Wheeler announced he is leaving the agency January 20, 2017. Details here). This is noteworthy, since a 2-1 FCC would allow a Republican Interim-Chairman to begin advancing an agenda at the outset of the new year before new commissioners are nominated/confirmed.
On the legislative front, two noteworthy updates occurred before the Congress wrapped up its work this week:
First, Senators Moran (R-KS), Schatz (D-HI), Fisher (R-NE), Blumenthal (D-CT), Blunt (R-MO) and Udall (D-NM) circulated bipartisan draft legislation to the Senate Commerce Committee aimed to address any insufficiency in the FCC’s repacking budget and timeframe should either prove insufficient at the conclusion of the auction. As you are aware, the FCC is currently limited to a $1.75 billion relocation fund and 39-month timeline to successfully repack the broadcast band following the incentive auction, limitations that NAB is concerned will prove inadequate.
Circulation of this legislation in advance of the new Congress intends to signal both that this legislation should be at the top of the Commerce Committee’s agenda next year once the auction concludes and the scope of the repack is known, and that the issue is a bipartisan one. This bill is a companion to the legislation circulated by House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) earlier this year.
Second, incoming House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR2), Congressman John Yarmuth (D-KY3) and five other bipartisan House E&C members introduced legislation this week to repeal the FCC’s Broadcast-Newspaper Cross-Ownership ban. The legislation intends to signal to both the FCC and the next Congress that there is bipartisan support on this issue, and helps set the stage for the FCC and Congress to address the ownership rules next year.
12 Years of Techsurvey: How Radio Listening Has Changed with New Technologies
When: Monday, December 19, 2:00 p.m. ET Register here. FREE.
Techsurvey is the radio broadcasting industry’s largest online survey. In this webinar, Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs will reflect on the data highlights to show how the habits and activities of radio listeners have evolved during the past twelve years. He’ll also offer a preview of the issues they will be examining in Techsurvey13.
You will learn:
How radio listening habits have evolved.
How devices like the smartphone and the connected car have impacted radio listening.
How new audio outlets, including streaming music services and podcasting, have affected listeners.
How social media has impacted radio stations and how they can establish a social hierarchy.
Why so many people are still enjoying radio despite all the new technology.
In this fast-moving, 30-minute webinar, Fred will examine some of the key findings over the past twelve years and why they matter to radio.
Gary Williams is an engineer for WLNS-TV and WLAJ-TV in Lansing. Gary was formerly Chief Engineer for WLAJ-TV, prior to the station entering into a shared-services agreement with WLNS-TV in 2013.
Q: Please share with us a brief engineering resume.
Gary: I started at (the original) WWJ-TV (Detroit) as a vacation relief engineer back in 1967, while attending Michigan Tech. I worked my way up to engineering management (and was the highest ranking person to survive the transition of WWJ-TV to WDIV-TV).
After 17 years at WDIV-TV (WDIV-TV VP/Chief Engineer Marcus Williams, “my brother,” was going to be at the station forever), I moved into corporate video for 17 years for companies including
GM, Chrysler, VW, and more).
I then moved back to broadcasting, spending three years as Chief Engineer at WSYM-TV (Lansing). When Journal bought WGBA-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin, I became Chief there along with WACY-TV, also in Green Bay.
After three years in Green Bay, I moved back to Lansing as Chief Engineer at WLAJ-TV.
When I started in engineering, I made system engineering a priority. I figured, every manufacturer had a manual for their specific equipment, but nobody had information on how to get box A talking to box B.
Q: Tell us something about yourself that very few people know:
Gary: I still ride my unicycle occasionally, but never thought I’d occasionally be leading singing at church.