Whether it be the golden arches of McDonald’s, the three stripes representing Adidas, or Apple’s apple with a bite, trademarks stare us in the face day in and day out. The best trademarked logos are those most easily remembered by their consumers. Hence, you can understand why the protection of these trademarks is such an important part of business; their trademarks are what lead consumers to easily associate particular symbols with the appropriate company.
Regardless of whether a company is established and marketed their company to be well recognized, protection of trademarks can still become a problem. For example, many people around the United States and beyond can come up with In-N-Out Burger’s logo, the distinctively shaped yellow arrow pointing to the burger joint’s location off the freeway. The In-N-Out franchise was born in 1948, and although found mostly in California, the company has recently started to expand east.
Although the In-N-Out franchise we all know and love does not exist outside of the United States, trademark disputes have reached Ethiopia, where, in 2011, a man by the name of Saleamlak Andargie opened his own hamburger and chicken restaurant, also called In-N-Out. Disputes have hence arisen over whether Andargie, who claims to have no knowledge of the American In-N-Out, can continue to use the name.
In December 2012, the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office officially recognized the American In-N-Out franchise trademark. But In-N-Out was not registered as an international brand in Ethiopia when Andargie registered his restaurant the year before, so it is currently a matter of first come, first serve. Andargie had the name first in Ethiopia, so he can currently legally continue to use the name. Whether that will stick or not is still uncertain.
Trademarks really help to establish how others view a business. When people see a particular word or symbol, and they automatically associate that brand with something bigger. If you are looking to start up a company or you have already started a company but you need help with trademark and copyright issues, contact us. At Traklight, we want to help you protect what is yours - your ideas, your products, or even your brilliant revelation written on that wrinkled dirty cocktail napkin.