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I'm very interested in trademarking the name DaniWeb but I would like some more information about it. How expensive is it? How does it protect me? What I am afraid of is some new company going out tomorrow and trademarking the name DaniWeb, and then sending me a cease and desist order to give up my domain to them, and suddenly they just bought themselves a whole lot of instant traffic and the recognition of an established community for the cost of the trademark.

Obviously something like this doesn't happen a lot, but I'm noticing more and more up-and-coming sites are getting trademarked. And also that nearly all sites that have traffic similar to ours are legally copyrighted or trademarked or incorporated in some way or another.

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Last Post by Patentist
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Your site is copyrighted implicitly, there's no need to register copyright (and there hasn't been for several decades no matter what some lawyers want you to believe).
The only thing registered copyright does is potentially make it easier to prove you have the originals, but in the case of a website an old backup tape or dated artwork would likely do just as well.

Trademarking I've never had to deal with directly. I do know that it's pretty useless unless you get a trademark in every single country.
A US trademark isn't necessarilly valid anywhere else.
It's also I think a quite expensive process.

As to incorporating it, that would turn Daniweb into a company complete with all the tax hassles and everything.
In many countries only companies can register domain names (or could, things are changing) which may have been a reason for people to incorporate themselves.

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Actually, forming an LLC has major benefits. It moves liability to the company. Right now, the liability is on YOU PERSONALLY. Someone goes blind because of your horrible color scheme (your color scheme is fine, it's a contrived example, ok?) and sues. You lose your new Mini Cooper and Sensa Coffee machine.

But as an LLC, only the company is liable, and you, personally, are not.

And there are Tax Benefits too! An LLC pays tax on profits. Right now, you have to mix all earnings with your personal taxes. Self-employment tax. With an LLC, you put yourself on the payroll. Any money left at the end of the year, you pay yourself as a bonus. The corporation then has no profits to tax.

Note: I'm not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. I am merely a monkey banging on a keyboard. If any of this post makes sense to you, that's a product of YOUR brain, so don't blame the monkey.

[IMG]http://www.tgreer.com/daniweb/monkey.jpg[/IMG]

For non-monkey advice on the matter:

http://www.nolo.com/lawcenter/index.cfm/catID/804B85E3-9224-47A9-A7E6B5BD92AACD48

http://www.nolo.com/lawcenter/index.cfm/catID/19B45DBF-E85F-4A3D-950E3E07E32851A7/subcatid/BAAE1B67-F54A-41B4-91943A51F56C3F79/crumb/5DE04E60-45BB-4108-8D757E247F35B8AB

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That is actually something that I already had definite plans to do - form an LLC. However, it's not a priority (more of a sometime within the next few months idea). What I became concerned with is the idea that now that I am protecting myself with an LLC, do I need to do something to protect the site from site-stealers? ;) And that lead to the creation of this thread.

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if someone trademarks the name and you can prove you were using it before they trademarked it they'll have 2 choices: give up the trademark of let you keep using the name (actually, they could offer to buy you out as a third choice).

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Besides which, if people tried to rip Dani off, they'll have us lot to come after them! With flaming torches and everything! ;)

But seriously, I do understand the concerns. I had an incident in which a former employer (who is a national ISP) took a photograph from my online photo gallery without permission and used it in a national print campaign. They claimed in a letter that because it was freely available on the Internet they assumed they could use it. The UK patent and copyright office confirmed that was most definately not the case. We resolved it amicably (or as amicably as you can) - but I lost a lot of respect for those guys.

M.

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That's a copyright problem, not a trademark one :)

I've had the same, only that was not resolved. The company refused to remove the photo until I sent them a bill and legal threats. At that point it was removed but the bill (which was in accordance with normal fees for such things as laid down by professional organisations) was never paid.
They're now bankrupt and are being investigated for involvement in illegal drugs traficking...

The argument is extremely common, and so are the questions how to prevent an image from being taken from the web (to which the answer should always be that it's impossible, the only thing you can do is put up a clear notice that it's not allowed).

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People, people. Trademarks exist to protect against "brand dilution". If you form an LLC, the "daniweb.com" domain is an asset of the company. It's illegal to "steal" it, regardless of copyright or trademark. Copyright refers to authorship. If you wrote custom sofware to run daniweb, it is coyrighted.

You cannot start "McDanild's", because that would dilute the brand of McDonald's. You would in effect, be TRADING upon the MARK they've made on the world. Similarly, you cannot use golden arches as your logo.

If you trademarked the "daniweb" name, you would have legal protection against someone trying to start "daninet", perhaps, because they would be trading upon the repuation you've made. Trademark protection applies to those MARKS you use to build a reputation or brand presence.

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I'm very interested in trademarking the name DaniWeb but I would like some more information about it. How expensive is it? How does it protect me? What I am afraid of is some new company going out tomorrow and trademarking the name DaniWeb, and then sending me a cease and desist order to give up my domain to them, and suddenly they just bought themselves a whole lot of instant traffic and the recognition of an established community for the cost of the trademark.

Obviously something like this doesn't happen a lot, but I'm noticing more and more up-and-coming sites are getting trademarked. And also that nearly all sites that have traffic similar to ours are legally copyrighted or trademarked or incorporated in some way or another.

Depending on the filling method from $75 up to $400 to trademark the logo. Plus the research if you are doing it through a trademark lawyer. That's an extra $1,000 or so...

As for forming an LLC... Eh... Think about it twice. Unless you really have assets and you need tax sheltering, the fairy tale that you will be protected in court if the LLC is formed is a myth. The term "piercing the corporate vail" comes to mind.. Some names like Enron, WorldCom, Yamayoshi and so on...

It will force you to file a much more complex tax form, and depending on if you for an LLC, LP, LLP, S-Corp, C-Corp, you will have to file quarterly, and even monthly tax forms to the state, federal gov. and your dear beloved local municipality... :evil:

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Dani, remember the legal axiom that the defendent who represents himself has a fool for a client.

In legal issues, the guys that went to school to learn how to handle the law did it for a reason. There are good and bad lawyers, but only they are qualified to give you advice on this subject. A product as good as Daniweb deserves someone that can help you professionally.

Do the research, get references, but hire somebody that can give you professional advice.

my opinion...

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As for forming an LLC... Eh... Think about it twice. Unless you really have assets and you need tax sheltering, the fairy tale that you will be protected in court if the LLC is formed is a myth. The term "piercing the corporate vail" comes to mind.. Some names like Enron, WorldCom, Yamayoshi and so on...

It will force you to file a much more complex tax form, and depending on if you for an LLC, LP, LLP, S-Corp, C-Corp, you will have to file quarterly, and even monthly tax forms to the state, federal gov. and your dear beloved local municipality... :evil:

The common link between Enron, WorldCom, Yamayoshi, etc. is corporate fraud.

If the company has not committed fraud, it would be mighty hard to "pierce the corporate vail."

Corporate status will definitely be more cost effective down the road. As already posted, it keeps you personally from being sued if the company flops, get you out from under self-employment tax, and a list of other benefits.

Sure, there are cons and some extra work involved, but that goes with life.
I would much rather do some extra work, be protected and not have to pay Uncle Sam as much.

As always, the choice is yours.


B Rad

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Well to anyone running their own business, save money every month for your taxes at the end of the year in a separate bank account. I just did my taxes in Canada for my business and it almost killed me because I hadn't saved anything for them. Now I'm stuck footing the bill in one huge lump instead of saving partially throughout the year and having the money available.....

Learn from my stupid mistake.


Dani, if you're seriously starting to make a nice profit with your site then get Inc. now because the site will only conitnue to grow and profit. The earlier you get it setup and seek guidance with a professional accountant and lawyer the better off you will be in the long run. Then you can't say "well I didn't know that" whenver you do taxes and get an insane bill.

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One thing I have always relied on as a cheap form of protection for my 'Intellectual Property' is the following:

Whatever I want to protect, I put in written form (source code, printed docs, artwork, etc.), and then place it in a stamped, self-addressed envelope. I then take it to the post-office and mail it to myself. The important part is when it comes back to me.... I DO NOT OPEN IT! I put it away in a safe place where it can be kept until needed.

Then, should any legal issue arise as to when I first had posession, knowledge of, or created the material, I simply provide the unopened, postmarked mail. The postmark validates the date (the courts really can not refute a date stamped by a division of the U.S. gov't), and by keeping it unopened, it shows the material within had been there since that time.

Dont forget... this is just a quick and simple way to protect your ideas cheaply, and it is not foolproof. It is not a substitute for a trademark or copyright. However, I have used the technique in court before and it did work.

Same idea as in security..... "You can only build a door so strong, before it becomes easier to go through the wall."

Well, you can protect your ideas with amazing degrees of ingenuity and legality. But only you can decide how much effort and protection any one item is worth - and how much effort someone else is willing to put into taking it from you.

Good Luck 'Dani'... I've only been here a few days so far, but this is a great site, and it does deserve protection! Keep up the great work!

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The strategy of sending yourself an envelope to protect your intellectual property rights is a great urban myth. I wrote a more detailed explanation about it in a blog post here.

Here is my quick and dirty take on your options for protecting the name DaniWeb:

Copyright is for any original creation, but not short words or phrases. Hence "daniweb" would not be protectable by copyright, but any artwork, text, code, or photos would be. Although you get an automatic "copyright" just by creating something, if you also register it you can get attorney fees and statutory damages from an infringer. That is a huge hammer which guarantees prompt settlement, whereas without it all you can get (after you win a lawsuit) is an injunction against further copying.

Trademark is the way to go. Any use in commerce (is hosting a web forum commerce?) gives you certain rights. YOu get the right to continue using it in the way that you are, but no right to expand the scope of use or geography of use. The better way to protect your trademark right is to file a federal trademark application.

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