The last newsletter reviewed protecting your Intellectual Property (“IP”). This newsletter discusses your most valuable IP ambassadors: your partners, employees, interns, licensees, independent contractors, and other colleagues working with you (“Ambassadors”). These folks are on the front lines for ensuring uniformity of use in existing IP and creation of new IP. A business’s main tools for Ambassadors are Style Guides and Clearance Forms.
Style Guides strengthen your existing IP, especially our trademarks, by establishing a uniformity of use. These guides are typically generated by graphic designers to outline the specific characteristics of a mark (e.g., font, position of any graphic elements, use of preceding “A” or “The”) in all communications, marketing, and sales. The designer will typically have a trademark attorney review the guide before final delivery. Style Guides can also be developed for design patents.
Clearance Forms should be distributed throughout the company (perhaps with the Style Guides) for any time an Ambassador believes he or she has developed new IP. These forms request standard information needed to define a mark, e.g.: name of the mark; all associated goods/services; deadlines for public, commercial exposure. Without a point-person to issue, collect, and review such documents, your business may be haphazardly creating and squandering intellectual property. Some will surely attain independent value, yet none of it will be protected, supervised, nor maintained. Clearance Forms solve that problem and have counterparts in patent, copyright, and even trade secret.