SEMA Show 2016, Las Vegas Convention Center

Welcome to this third of our four part series on protecting your business’ intellectual assets at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show. Part one dealt with what to do when you find counterfeits of your products at the SEMA Show. Part two dealt with protecting your new product launch at the SEMA Show. Part three deals with how and why to protect your brand identifiers at the SEMA Show.

The SEMA Show offers a unique opportunity for your company to get your brand(s) in front of thousands of distributors, buyers and end users. All of this attention also means that your company needs to take the proper steps to protect your brands from those looking to make a quick buck by copying or counterfeiting your products. Here are some things you should think about when considering how best to protect your trademarks and brand identifiers at the SEMA Show:

Make Sure You Own Your Logos and Artwork

Did you know that, when an artist develops a new logo for one of your products, that artist owns the copyright to that artwork? The artist’s copyright technically means that, until the copyright is assigned or licensed to your business, you do not have the right to make copies of that logo without the artist’s permission. This applies not only to logos, but also to drawings, photographs, written materials (such as product manuals), videos and sound recordings. In limited instances, the artwork can be considered a “work for hire,” in which case your company automatically owns the copyright as opposed to the artist.

Unfortunately, many companies fail to have the copyright to their artwork formally transferred to the company. This leaves the company vulnerable to paying damages to the artist for copyright infringement. Worse yet, if your competitor(s) find out that you don’t own the copyright to your important artwork, they can purchase the copyright from the artist. This gives your competitor the right to use your artwork (and sue you for copyright infringement if you continue using the artwork), and leaves you without the ability to stop them.

Carefully review all artwork to be used at the SEMA Show, including company and product logos, drawings, photographs, written materials such as product manuals, videos, and audio recordings, to ensure copyright ownership. Failing to do so exposes your company to possible copyright infringement lawsuits and risks the possibility that one of your competitors could see your new artwork and purchase the copyright from the artist.

Read more ways to protect your trademarks and brand identifiers on the next page.