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By Susan Radde, Assistant General Counsel for True Value Company
If you're a small online business owner and you're working
with a service provider to develop new ideas, characters or other "fuzzy" types
of concepts along those lines, you need to be very careful about your
intellectual property rights.
The key is to make sure that you own all of these concepts
and ideas so that the service provider can't then go out and use ideas and concepts
that you may have rejected, but are still important to you.
This is why you have to make sure that these things are
spelled out, in writing, in any
agreement that you have with somebody who's collaborating with you to create your
Spell out who owns what and what you're going to do with
concepts and ideas that are rejected in that process.
Trademarks and Branding
In the United States, the first user of a trademark is the
owner-however, everywhere else in the world, the first to file is the
owner. It's important here to make sure
that if you are linking or you are using someone else's trademark that you do
it in some way that does not imply a sponsorship or association without the
other party's approval.
Your marketing campaign can be stopped through an injunction
if you are found to be improperly using someone else's trademark. To avoid any negative consequences, be sure
to consult with a trademark attorney who can help clear your trademarks and
domain names and don't rely on the advice of your service provider only.
Susan Radde is currently
working as Assistant General Counsel for True Value Company. Ms. Radde has been in house at True Value
since 2000. At True Value, Ms. Radde
handles all commercial and intellectual property matters, including maintaining
True Value's extensive trademark portfolio consisting of over 400 US and
international registrations. Prior to
joining True Value, Ms. Radde worked in house at Interstate Insurance Group, a
former subsidiary of Fireman's Fund. Ms.
Radde started her practice at the law firm of Meagher & Geer in
Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she represented insurance companies in litigation
Ms. Radde obtained her
Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Minnesota in 1988 and
her Juris Doctorate *** Laude from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul,
Minnesota in 1991. In 1992, she obtained
a Master of Laws with Merit from the University of London. Ms. Radde is admitted to practice in
Illinois, Minnesota and is a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and
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