You see that graphic to the right? That was from the first set of graphics my designer made for one of my programs.
We were all set and had even began promoting the program when we were contacted and told we could not use our program name. As a matter of fact, we needed to stop using it immediately.
… and this could happen to you if you are not careful. Let me tell you the story so you can make sure to not have to recreate an entire program like we did!
Why We Had To Change -> Trademark Infringement
You see, part of our program name was trademarked. Not the entire name, just part of it. The trademark owner contacted our office and suggested that we remove the site, directory listings and any other public reference we had to their trademark because we were infringing on their rights.
Now, the last thing I ever want to do is be in violation of someone else's rights!
Where did we go wrong?
We had looked stuff up…
You see, we did not consider doing a trademark search on part of our program name. We did not consider doing a search on a phrase that made up our program name.
That simple lack of a search cost us hours.
Phone Calls, E-mails and Re-Work Oh My!
Phone Calls => ~4.5 hours of time lost to re-work
As soon as we were notified of the issue, I called my legal support to #1 see what my options were and #2 see what a reasonable amount of time for a change might be — if we needed to make it.
While I was waiting for the lawyer to return my call, I hopped on the phone with my team to assess damages and come up with a plan. I have to say, if I did not have a team (thank you Chris, Vikki, Shannon and Bruce!) I would have been a bit of a mess at that point. As it was, I was able to stay calm and even laugh a lot through the process!
After getting my response from the lawyer and coming up with a plan of action with my team, I contacted the trademark owner to let them know we were not aware of the conflict and how we planned to fix the situation.
E-mails => ~3.75 hours of time lost to re-work
Next, we had to let our featured experts and promotion partners know what was going on! Remember, they were promoting the event already. We composed 2 different communications outlining what had happened and what they needed to do. (Some already had graphics on their websites promoting the event, etc.)
While we attempted to be very clear and explain that the name change in the middle of a promotion was not an arbitrary thing, but legally necessary; there were still people that wanted more informaiton. Some wrote to us and we needed to respond quickly, while others called us to discuss the matter.
Re-Work => ~36 hours of time lost
- Graphics – We had a banner graphic for the site, 4 affiliate graphics, 4 featured expert graphics and a promotional flyer that had to be recreated.
- Website URL – We are VERY grateful to a savvy rep at GoDaddy for talking us through the changes we needed to make to completely remove the old site and build a new one without losing too much work. (remember, our url was the name of the program and we could no longer use that program name, so the url had to change too!)
- Directory Listings – This math was kind of fun to do… We did an event listing for each of the 21 sessions on three different event directories. That is 63 event listings that needed to be modified. The program name and/or url were mentioned 4 times in each listing. That makes 252 changes necessary just for the listings!
- Site Content – Every page of the site listed either the program name or had an internal link that needed to be changed.
- Shopping Cart – Product names were changed, order pages were changed and our affiliate program had to be updated.
- AutoResponders, Mailings & Sign up Forms – Every template used to communicate and the communication copy had to change.
- Affiliate Collateral – All of the pre-written tweets, Facebook posts, emails and blog posts had to be updated.
- QR Codes – Recreated
- Press Releases – Rewritten
- Participant Action Guides – Recreated
- Pre-Recorded Session – I had a couple of my experts that were going to be unavailable to talk live on our session, so we had pre-recorded their session. Crud! The program name and url were mentioned throughout the program. We had to get creative with this one, but it had to be fixed too.
What You Can Do
Now, I'm not sharing all of this as a whoa-is-me story. I am sharing it because I want you to LEARN and TAKE ACTION from my mistake.
As you are creating new programs, products, books, whatever; do a trademark search! But don't just do a search on your entire name. Look at it to see if there are other logical breakouts or phrases and do a search on that too.
We were able to turn the project around in record time and not lose too much with our event promotion. In fact, I found that the new name more accurately reflected what the program was about. Woot!
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