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Creative Trademark Licensing Presents Business Opportunities

Written by Susan Neuberger Weller

The Washington Post recently published an interesting article showing how opportunistic entrepreneurs and various branches of the U.S. military have collaborated to create a $50 million market for goods branded with various US military insignia and trademarks. When I read articles of this type, it always reminds me that the possibility of creating a multi-million dollar empire through the creative and carefully managed use of trademarks – whether your own or licensed from a third party – is endless. That individuals and established companies can profit  from trademarks owned by the U.S Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines in a down economy with expected sales this year of $50 million is a tribute not only to pride in our country but to the innovation, creativity, and opportunity it fosters.

Although a multi-million dollar business venture is the ideal, even small companies can, with some ingenuity and solid business sense, profit from exploiting their own or licensed third party trademarks. The key is to think outside the box and discover the unimagined or maybe just the overlooked, the solution to an everyday annoyance or the logical or perhaps unique expansion idea for an established third party brand.

Whatever road you wander down, always be sure your mark is available for your proposed use through a thorough and formal trademark search and then obtain a federal registration for your mark. If you are looking to license a third party’s mark, ensure that the mark is free and clear for your proposed use,  since your new idea for the mark may not already be covered in the third party’s trademark portfolio.

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought." — Albert von Szent-Gyorgy.   Marine Corps “Devil Dog” cologne to smell like a Marine….need I say more?

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Geri Haight is a Mintz Member and former in-house counsel who focuses on employment litigation, counseling, and compliance, as well as intellectual property and trade secret matters.
Susan Neuberger Weller manages the Trademark & Copyright Practice at Mintz. Susan assists clients with securing and protecting IP assets across the globe. She's worked with clients in a variety of industries, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, software, electronics, and entertainment.