With the increase in use of the internet for the posting of blogs, the reputation of it is now more critical than ever to protect the Association’s name and in some cases trademarks from harm. Disgruntled owners can now, very easily place all of their grievances on line with great ease. In communities that survive on the good will of their name and reputation, this can have a devastating effect.
The Colorado Secretary of State acts as the registrar for corporate names as well as trademarks. By incorporating your association, its name is reserved for its exclusive use. This means the Association can also control how its name is used in the creation of a website. However, an association should also register its logo and tagline as trademarks to ensure that it has the exclusive right to use of these identifying words or
logos. Trademarks are defined as any word, name or symbol, or any combination, used to identify and distinguish goods made or, in the case of a community association, services provided. In most instances, a community association’s tagline, logo or even its name may be considered a trademark. Recognizing association logos and taglines as trademarks protects the good will received by the association and prevents others from using the logo or tagline without the association’s consent.
Once an association uses a logo, tagline in the provision of services (e.g., on letterhead), the logo, tagline or name automatically acquires, common law protection if another is using a name, tagline or logo that is “confusingly similar”. A trademark is deemed to be “used” in Colorado when it is used in connection with services rendered. Under this common law trademark theory, the owner of the trademark may sue anyone who is using the trademark for actual damages or the Association can obtain an order from the court prohibiting the use of the trademark by the non-registered owner.
Registering a Trademark
If an association logo or tagline is registered with the State of Colorado as a trademark, the association will be afforded additional statutory protection. Registration provides public notice of the association’s ownership of the logo, tagline and name and may entitle the association to certain special damages if there is unauthorized use of the trademark. Registration of a trademark is effective for ten years and renewable for additional ten-year terms. This state registration applies only within the State of Colorado and is separate from any federal registration of trademarks that have national recognition and use. Generally, due to the nature of community association name, tagline and logo use, as well as cost factors and other requirements, federal registration of a trademark my not be feasible for most community associations. However, if your association has a substantial national presence due to its business opportunities, federal registration should be considered.
Website Domain Names
With more and more associations beginning to use the web as a communication tool, preserving and protecting an appropriate domain name can be important. We suggest that associations register their own domain name even if a web site isn’t in the immediate plans of the association. Registration is inexpensive and may help avoid confusion as to the source of information on a site. There are several websites that will verify whether a domain name is available and provide easy to follow instructions on registering the domain name. Log on to www.domain.com or www.registrars.com. The annual fee for each domain name is minimal.
If you would like us to assist you with registration of your community’s name, logo or tagline, please contact our office at 303.432.9999 and we will be glad to assist you.