General Counsel’s Corner for the Small Business: Getting Show Ready, Part 2 of 2

After a long, pandemic-fueled break, automotive trade shows are finally back. The largest in the world, Germany’s Automechanika Show, returns in September, leading up to SEMA making its triumphant return in November 2021. As most automotive companies know, however, most of the work preparing for SEMA takes place between April and August. In our last Blog, we highlighted how copyrights play an essential role in protecting your products. This time, we are going to look at trademarks and patents.

When it comes to trademarks, the most important aspect is branding your new products. Picking a strong product name is important for two major reasons: you want a unique brand, and you don’t want a trademark infringement case. You would be amazed at how often clients come up with a name that is already in use by another automotive aftermarket company. You want to trademark your own product names, and to do that, they need to be completely original.

Make sure you have done trademark clearance before deciding on the name for your new product. If the name you pick is already in use and you go to print without realizing it, the consequences could be disastrous. You don’t want to have to pull your product off of the shelves. It is natural for names to creep into your subconscious and to end up choosing them without even realizing you had heard them before.

When it comes to patents, it is important to remember that trade shows mark a major case of public disclosure. Public disclosure constitutes any non-confidential showing or description of your invention. It could lead to losing your rights to a patent if you show it off before getting it approved first. If you are showing off your new products and inventions without having them patented first, you are opening the door to dozens of knock-offs.

To protect your invention, you will have to work with a lawyer to submit a patent application. A full application can take a month to prepare, which we understand may be a high demand as you juggle other preparations for SEMA. Accordingly, we can also recommend a provisional application, which only takes a day to complete. For a provisional patent application, you can file as little as a paragraph and four pictures. You will receive temporary patent protection and peace of mind as you publicly display your products for the first time.

When you put so much effort into the success of your automotive aftermarket business, don’t leave the important details up to chance. As trade show season approaches, now is the time to utilize copyrights, trademarks, and patents to protect your products and increase your sales. For help getting show ready, contact Aftermarket Law today!

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