Someone Tried to Steal My Brand

Earlier this year, I got a message that someone was using my trademarked brand name as their own. I was devastated. I’ve worked so hard to establish Photoboss® as a brand and community and to see someone else using it really hurt. In today’s episode, I’m sharing how I navigated it from a legal standpoint and the lessons I learned from it that I also took into my other brands.

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Someone Tried to Steal My Brand: Photoboss®

In 2017, Photoboss® started as a Facebook community and has grown into a few programs, courses, and business coaching for photographers. I saw so much value in the brand that I decided to trademark it. Now, the Facebook community has over 11,000 photographers inside it (make sure you join if you’re not already in it)!

Since I decided to trademark it, I have this little piece of paper that says it’s mine and no one else can use it.

Fast forward to March of 2023, I got a message that someone had launched a Photoboss podcast. Immediately I was devastated, but I wasn’t sure what to do. I immediately contacted the lawyer that I filed the trademark through and she suggested I contact the host and send a cease and decist.

It gets interesting though, because the host was in another country and the podcast was in Spanish. I wasn’t sure how that could impact the legalities of my trademark. They were using the podcast for the same industry and for the same concept, even though I wasn’t using the name for a podcast.

I decided to take the approach of submitting trademark infringement claims on all content creation platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Apple, etc. While most of the social media platforms dismissed my claims, Spotify took it seriously. They removed the show while they investigated it.

A week or two went by and the host renamed the show to something similar, yet different enough. The host did release an episode about how they didn’t understand why they couldn’t use the name and why I would go after them, which we’ll get to in the lessons below.

Side note: I did end up taking this experience as a sign to trademark the Called to Both brand as well.

Lessons in Trademarks

If you have a brand name that you would be devastated if someone else used or trademarked, make sure you start the process ASAP. When there is a

Lesson 1: Check the trademark database for the name you want to use. Just because you don’t see it being used for whatever format you want it for, doesn’t mean you can use it.

Lesson 2: If you don’t hold the trademark for a name or brand and someone else uses it, you do have to take them to court for anything to happen. This is costly and oftentimes entrepreneurs don’t have the resources to defend their intellectual property.

Lesson 3: When you’re handling situations in your business, sometimes you will be seen as the bad guy, even if you’re not.

Lesson 4: Get trademarked! Check to see if the name is available and trademark it as soon as possible.

If you’re enjoying the content we’re creating on the podcast and want to connect with others who are called to both, make sure you come join us in the Called to Both Facebook Group!

Mentioned in this Episode:

Indie Law

Connect with Joy:

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Youtube: youtube.com/channel/UC-Ou6jRKxcjMrVMxWxLO_fQ

Facebook: facebook.com/joymichellephotography

Coach with Joy: joymichelle.co/coaching

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