March 6, 2017,

Why You Can’t Wait to Protect Your Intellectual Property

The late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a book entitled “Why We Can’t Wait”.  The book describes in detail the nonviolent campaign against legal segregation and racial injustice waged by Dr. King and his followers in the 1960s, specifically in Birmingham, Alabama.  The title of the book was meant to answer those who felt that King and his followers should wait for change to come, instead of forcing things to change by their actions.  Although I read the book many, many years ago, I still remember the urgency of its message.  The message was that there is never a good time to challenge oppression and tyranny and waiting does not make the situation any better or easier.  The book stands for the proposition that action is necessary to correct injustice and that good people must not remain silent and wait for change to occur on its own.

Although I do not practice civil rights law, I often find myself talking to business owners and entrepreneurs about the same thing:  why they can’t wait . . . to take action to protect their intellectual property.  I know that protection of intellectual property is nowhere near as serious as protecting our civil rights and opposing racial injustice.  However, I can’t help being reminded of the title of Dr. King’s book every time I talk to someone who wants to wait, for whatever reason, before taking steps to protect their valuable intellectual property.  My personal goal this year is to communicate to business owners and entrepreneurs more effectively and urgently all of the reasons why they can’t afford to wait to protect their intellectual property.  When it comes to trademark, copyright and also patents, time is not on your side.  The longer you wait to obtain protection for your unique business name, slogan or product, the more likely it is that someone else will see the value in your name, logo or other creative work, start using it as their own and take action to protect it before you do.  It is possible for someone who starts using a slogan, logo, business or product name identical or similar to yours to obtain a federal trademark registration for that name and therefore obtain rights superior to yours.  Don’t think it’s possible?  Just ask Robert Clivilles.

Does his name sound familiar?  What about the name C & C Music Factory?  That is the name of the music group created and founded by Robert Clivilles and Robert Cole.  According to Mr. Clivilles, C & C Music Factory stands for Clivilles and Cole Music Factory.  You may recall that a rapper named Freedom Williams performed some of C &C Music Factory’s greatest hits back in the 90s.  Songs like “Gonna Make you Sweat(Everybody Dance Now)” and “Things that Make You Go Hmmm”.  Unfortunately, neither Clivilles nor Cole obtained a federal trademark registration for the name of their group….but rapper Freedom Williams did.  Despite leaving C&C Music Factory and going solo, Williams obtained two separate trademark registrations for the group’s name: one in 2005 under his own name and another in 2015 under the name of his business, Freedom Williams Entertainment.  The first trademark registration Williams obtained in 2005 was for the name “C And C Music Factory” and is now dead, or no longer an active registration.  However, the trademark registration Williams obtained in 2015 remains live or active and is for the name “C & C Music Factory.”  As a result of his trademark registrations, Williams has been legally performing under and profiting from the name C & C Music Factory for years.  Apparently Robert Clivilles did not even know that Freedom Williams twice obtained a federal trademark registration for the name of the group that he created with Robert Cole until just recently.  On July 2, 2016, Mr. Clivilles wrote an open letter to Freedom Williams on Facebook explaining the origins of C&C Music Factory and why he thinks Williams has no right to use the name that he and Robert Cole created.  See Robert Clivilles Open letter to Freedom Williams on Facebook at this link: http://bit.ly/2jaSReF.

According to Mr. Clivilles’ letter, C & C Music Factory was created because Clivilles and Cole decided to form a music group to record the song he wrote {“Gonna Make you Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”} after it was rejected by another group.  Mr. Clivilles claims that Freedom Williams was never a part of C&C Music Factory but was only one of many “featured artists” used to record songs for the group.  Clivilles explains in his letter that after much success writing and producing songs for other artists, he walked away from the music industry after the death of Robert Cole in 1996.  Mr. Clivilles also threatens legal action against Williams in his letter.  However, as of the writing of this article, to my knowledge, Clivilles has not filed any lawsuits against Freedom Williams.  As recently as January 5, 2017, Freedom Williams was performing in Las Vegas using the name C & C Music Factory.  I can’t tell you that everything that Mr. Clivilles says in his letter is true, but so far there has been no response to the letter from Freedom Williams.

This story is a perfect illustration of why you can’t wait to obtain protection for your intellectual property.  As a result of obtaining a federal trademark registration for the name C&C Music Factory, Freedom Williams now has the legal right to use that name over the objections of one of the people who created it!  In addition, Williams can legally prevent anyone else, including Robert Clivilles, from using the name C & C Music Factory.  Imagine losing the right to use a name, slogan or logo that you created to someone else who had nothing to do with creating it.  Imagine someone else obtaining the legal right to profit from your creative work because they took action to protect it and you didn’t.  Just think how you would feel if someone else obtained a federal trademark registration for the name of your business or for your slogan or logo before you do.  Do you know of another business somewhere in the U.S. that is using a name, logo or slogan identical or similar to yours?  If so, and you have not taken steps to protect your intellectual property, what are you waiting for? Don’t wait to protect your idea, invention, business name, slogan, logo, product name, computer program or other creative works.  Let 2017 be the year that you take action to protect your valuable intellectual property and add value to your business.  It is my goal to help at least 20 individuals and/or businesses take action to protect their valuable intellectual property by February 28, 2017.  Please share this article with anyone you think may benefit from this information.  Now is the time.  Protect your brand and grow your profit in 2017.  Please don’t wait.