5 Steps to Protecting Patent & Trademark Rights in a Kickstarter or Crowdfunding Campaign

By: Elias Borges, patent & trademark lawyer.

1. Patent Search Before Launching the Campaign

Crowdfunding of new technology products attract a lot of attention these days, so you'll want to ensure that your campaign isn't sideswiped by accusations of patent infringement. Google and the US patent office each provide excellent patent searching tools which are freely accessible to anyone. Comprehensive patent searching needs to be conducted before launching a Kickstarter or Crowdfunding campaign for a new technology product.

2. Provisional Patent Application

If there are new and inventive features in the new product your trying to launch with the crowdfunding campaign, then you'll need to file for patent protection before starting the campaign. Provisional patent applications provide a cost effective way of protecting the inventive features of the product without the time and expense of a full patent application. Don't forget that provisional applications must be followed up by a non-provisional application within one year of their filing date.

3. Select a Good Trademark to Anchor the Campaign

A successful Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaign can be a real head start to building excitement about your new venture. Interesting campaigns can attract media attention and generate marketing buzz, all of which are key ingredients to building brand equity. Selecting a suitable and protectable trademark is the first step in building a branding strategy. Not all names make good trademarks however. Names which utilize generic or descriptive words for example, are usually poor choices because they make weak trademarks at best. Ideally, the name of the brand should be as unique and distinctive as possible – it should stand out from the crowd.

4. Searching Trademarks Before Launching the Campaign.

So now the Brand names and logos are selected but the campaign has not yet launched – now is the perfect time to search the desired names and logos to ensure that the would be brands do not conflict with existing (or soon to exist) trademark registrations. Exhaustive searches are conducted in the various trademark offices of concern (US, Canadian, etc) in an attempt to ferret out potentially confusing marks. If nothing is found, then the campaign can proceed – if conflicting marks are found, then it's back to the drawing board for the brands.

5. Trademark Applications

As soon as the desired trademarks have been cleared for adoption by rigorous trademark searching, trademark applications are filed with the target market (usually in the US and Canada for example). The applications will be based on proposed use and should be limited to the goods/services contemplated to be brought to market in the short term. These applications ensures ownership of the Brand equity created by the successful Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaign.