Well boys and girls, it is time for another installment of Uncle Jason’s fun-filled music industry tips, to make your lives as future DJ stars that much easier. Let’s begin, shall we? Today’s first topic is trademarking your DJ name, and why you should do it. Since we promote DJs from all over the country, we hear all sorts of DJ names. Through the years, I have heard of a DJ in one part of the country, and then someone tells me that there is a DJ two-thousand miles away with the same name. Why should I care about a DJ in California with the same band name as I have, if I am in Florida you ask? Well, you have plenty to worry about.
One of the biggest issues in the trademark game is who was using the name first. If the other DJ can prove they had what is called “prior usage”, they may be getting some of that money from the million records you sold. Another issue is the “scope of usage”, meaning which DJ is better known with the name, or which band has had the biggest commercial effect with the usage of the name. There was a case a number of years ago where Bootsy Collins, of James Brown fame, was sued by a band with the same name he was using. The other band showed they had prior usage of the name and they were awarded a large share of the money Bootsy and his band had made.
To find out if the other DJ has trademarked the name, you can hire an attorney to do a trademark search for you, which should cost around $200. A search by a trademark attorney should tell you if the name is currently registered or if there are any applications pending to register the name, which have been filed within the last two or three months. If the other DJ has an application pending, you do have a period of time to contest their application, so check with your attorney on that issue. This could involve going to a hearing in Washington at the trademark department, so be prepared to do some traveling. You can also check your local library, since many libraries have access to trademark information, but I don’t think that the library can tell you if there is an application pending, only if the name is already registered.
If you find that the other DJ has not trademarked the name, you would probably have a good shot of getting your trademark application approved if you can prove prior usage. Some of the ways to do so are tapes or CD’s containing dates, flyers for shows, reviews, or anything else containing a date and your band name. Trademark applications take anywhere from nine to sixteen months to be completed, since the trademark office is backed up, so be patient. If you find that the other band has trademarked the name, it is probably time to find a new name.
I hope this little lesson in trademarking your band name has been helpful. You Uncle Jason is not an attorney, so make sure to check with an attorney who does trademark work to answer any questions you may have. Until next time kids, keep on rockin’!!!!