Bulletproof your workshop name.
Do you really need to register a trademark for your workshop or online course that you’ve created? Have a look at my other videos that talk about what a trademark is and how they are different from business names. But the answer to the question, should you register a trademark for your course? It depends.
Let’s use an example. If I was creating a course and the course was about legal essentials for running workshops, I couldn’t register those words, legal essentials for workshops as a trademark, because It’s simply too descriptive. So the way the trademark law works is that if you are selecting a name, or a term or a phrase that other people in your industry might need to use legitimately without ripping off your name, then you cannot have it as a trademark.
This is the general rule, so I couldn’t say legal essentials workshop because other lawyers might want to use that name for their legal essentials workshop. However, I could use something that is descriptive to an extent, but not a commonly used terminology, for example, bulletproof. I can use the word bulletproof or bulletproof your workshop or bulletproof your business. I can get that registered as a trademark and in fact, of course being a trademark lawyer, I have done exactly that.
Because it’s a brand name, it’s a name that’s unique to me, it’s a name that I don’t want others using. So as my reputation in this name Bulletproof and bulletproof your workshop, bulletproof your brand, bulletproof your business rises, I don’t want other people copying me. So the benefit to me of having that registered is that I can stop others from using the course name. If somebody else says, “Hey, that’s my course name, you can’t use it,” I can say, “Here’s my trademark certificate, that’s my name, I own it and you can’t use it.”
So trademark registration is a complete defense to trademark infringement, they can’t sue me for trademark infringement because I’ve got it registered and I can stop them. So those are the two benefits of getting your course name registered, it depends really if you’re just using it under your main brand and hopefully you’ve got your main business name registered as a trademark. For example, Tonya Target. She’s a public relations trainer and she has got several trademarks registered, but one of her most important brands is her own personal name.
Everybody knows that when they go to a Tonya Target workshop, they are getting a good quality workshop. Now, I hear you say, “Tonya Target, that’s her personal name. So does she have to register it as a trademark?” She doesn’t have to, but she has. She’s my client, so I can tell you, she has got it registered and the benefit of having your personal name registered is if you use your personal name as your brand, somebody else can’t stop you using that name as a brand if you have it registered.
Now, it is true that it’s her personal name and nobody would be able to stop her using a personal name, but if somebody wanted to be difficult or cause her problems, they could register her personal name and then claim trademark infringement if she used her personal name as her brand name or her trademark. So yes, and I’ve had this discussion recently with a very well-known rugby player who is one of my clients about getting his name registered as a trademark because his name is his brand.
So if your brand name for your course is your personal name, I do strongly recommend getting that registered as a trademark for your main business. One of my clients is a plumber. So if she practiced under her personal name, then I would recommend that she gets her personal name registered as a trademark for plumbing. But also if she runs courses and workshops, then I would recommend that she also has it registered for courses and workshops. So should you register your course name?
It depends, if it’s purely descriptive then don’t worry about it. If it is a brand that you’re building and that’s the name that sets you apart from people, then yes, it should be a priority to register it. So that you make sure you’re not infringing anybody else’s name and you are also making sure that no one else can infringe your name. Now it does happen, and I have a client who’s fairly high profile who started off with a range of courses and she called her course a particular name. But about a year later, we got to it and she eventually agreed that she was going to get this name registered as a trademark.
At that stage, when I did the trademark for her, I always did a search before I filed it and when I did the search for her, we discovered to our horror that somebody else already had that name registered as a trademark. So the downside was if she kept that name and if the owners of the trademark found out, then she would be liable to pay trademark infringement costs. They could sue her for infringement and she might have to pay over her profits. So she immediately stopped using that name to run her courses.
To conclude trademark registration gives me the protection to use a non-descriptive name, whilst knowing I’m secure. I know that nobody else can use that name and I don’t have to worry about infringing someone else because I have it registered. My name is Cathryn Warburton, my clients call me The Legal Lioness, all the best with your workshops.