You have this really great concept for an organization and want to give it the acronym MBS, short for My Brother Sam. You are quite sure that this name and acronym will catch on and are gung-ho about printing out all of the marketing materials, publishing website information, Facebook, etc. and making it all public. You may even create a logo, based on the acronym/name, but STOP THE PRESS!!! Are you sure that My Brother Sam or MBS is not currently being used? Make sure to check this out! The last thing you want to do is to find out through a letter from an attorney that they are in use. Not only would you have to pay for usage of the trademarked name, acronym, and/or logo, but you would have to discard all of the marketing items that were created. A great place to check to find out if the information is trademarked would be the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). They could also help with any other questions that you might have involving patents or trademarks.
The Better Business Bureau is not exempt from copyright infringers. Emails, websites, letters, advertising, business cards, etc. are reported, where the BBB logo, name, and initials are used without permission. Once the BBB learns of this, the issue is addressed with the company. If further action is needed, a legal representative may be in touch. Sometimes, a previous BBB member may forget or neglect to remove the logo. These issues are certainly addressed as well.
If you have questions about trademark names/acronyms, remember to contact the USPTO! A call is a lot less hassle than lost time and other precious resources. Starting a new business venture may be exciting, but look before you leap!
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