For years I have heard of people getting a poor man’s copyright. That is the process where the individual mails their written, artistic, etc. work to themselves using the U.S. Postal Service. When they receive their work in the mail they put it up unopened.
What’s the benefit? I suppose the benefit of this would be to show when the material was created because it’s surely not to register a copyright. The copyright actually existed the moment the work was created and did not require registration. Registering your creative material not only creates a written record of when your work was created but it also entitles you to monetary damages if someone intentionally copies your work.
You can’t collect damages by using the U.S. mail therefore I recommend paying the $55 registration fee and reaping the full benefits that comes with copyright registration.
So What Is A Poor Man’s Trademark?
From my understanding it’s suppose to operate just as a poor man’s copyright by using the U.S. mail to secure a trademark. The concept of obtaining a trademark is a myth. To understand why it is a myth you have to know what a trademark is, what it does and what it protects.
A trademark is a brand identifier. It is that thing that distinguishes your company from another. This could be your logo, trade name, or a specific color (think Tiffany & Co.). As with copyrights, trademarks exist from the moment you begin using them and don’t require registration. Registration however gives you protection though out the United States where unregistered marks are limited to your business’s geographical location. Federal registration also awards monetary damages for unauthorized use of your mark by third parties.
The poor man’s trademark is a myth and a very dangerous one at that. Mailing a copy of your logo to yourself does nothing to identify your brand, it doesn’t speak to the services/products that you provide and it doesn’t show how you use your logo in association with your brand. While registering your trademark is not cheap and often requires the assistance of a trademark attorney, the investment to obtain federal trademark registration and protect your brand is well worth the cost.
Contact our office if you have questions about identifying and registering your copyrights and trademarks.
The Small Business’s Attorney