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Is Your Intellectual Property House In Order?


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This isn't meant as a criticism, but I've noticed that most aspiring craft distillers don't think very much about marketing and even less about the legal aspects of marketing and branding. Here are two good blogs I've found on the subject. Both are generated by the Chicago law firm of Freeborn & Peters LLP. And, yes, they do them as a form of advertising for their legal services. I have no connection to the firm beyond knowing that at least one of the partners is a big bourbon fan.



If nothing else, scanning both of them from time to time will remind you why you decided to become a craft distiller and not a lawyer.

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Speaking of intellectual property law, is it necessary or wise to consult an attorney to do a search before putting a label/product in the marketplace? Is searching trademarks etc. yourself sufficient? If anyone has used an attorney for this purpose, what are the costs?

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  • 1 month later...

Lowest cost for patent investigation (that's legit) is about $1000-$1500 depending on where you are. There are other paths to this, tho. Spend a few bucks and ask a lawyer to be safe, especially if your product name is common or could be overlapped with an existing product. We almost made that mistake (using an animal on our logo) till the lawyer told us to cease fire.

Legal zoom can do all, just watch out re: what you want vs. what you get. We found them very responsive (with real people and everything!) and less of an Amazon.com-type of legal outlet.

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Unless you really, really don't have time, do the trademarking yourself. USPTO has easy online submission forms with searching. Their people are super nice and easy to talk to. It is a little like the TTB. You hope you get a good examiner, but they are there to help you through the process. I had two separate rejections for things very important to my branding, but I managed to work with my examiner to explain the issues, and both times I won my argument. It really is not that hard compared to actually starting a distillery from scratch.

All this being said, I did use an attorney to file my SOU for a couple of my items just because it was worth the extra couple of hundred bucks when I had my hands full. Tons of good trademark attorneys who can do this in their sleep for not much money. You shouldn't pay more than $150 per submission above the government fees, in my opinion. Private message me and I will give you the name of my trademark guy. He is in NYC and I am in Hawaii, so proximity is not relevant.

Never had a need for a patent. If you are patenting something, I think an attorney is essential.

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