Leveraging an Anonymous LLC for Trademark and Copyright Protection
These days, confidentiality is hard to come by. On a personal level, it’s hard to be anonymous even on a weekend vacation with friends when they tag you in pictures on their Instagram feed. In a business context, many filings and registrations are publicly accessible with just a click of a mouse. There are a number of reasons for seeking a certain level of confidentiality. Some people seek to prevent potentially dangerous individuals, such as stalkers, from getting information about their whereabouts. In legal but controversial industries like marijuana production or firearms sales, business owners may wish to shield their identities so as not to be associated with any negative fallout. Whatever the reason, keep reading to see how we can help you and your business achieve the confidentiality you need while obtaining the legal protections for your intellectual property that are necessary to stay competitive.
Trademark & Copyright Basics
Trademarks are words, phrases, symbols, or logos that identify a party as the source of goods or services. Some iconic trademarks include the McDonald’s golden arches and the Budweiser brand name. Trademarks protect consumers and businesses alike because consumers want assurance the goods legitimately come from these brands, and businesses want to protect their bottom line from copycat businesses while maintaining their reputation. For these reasons, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) allows trademarks to be registered at the federal level for nationwide protection, and it will not register new trademarks that are too similar to existing ones.
Unlike trademarks, creative expressions, or artistic works, are automatically protected the moment they’re created. Examples of protected artistic works include original tattoos, songs, novels, plays, websites, etc. Copyright protection means that authors can authorize or prohibit others from reproducing, distributing copies of, or broadcasting the work. But authors gain additional protections if they register their works with the U.S. Copyright Office. Importantly, a work must be registered in order to bring a lawsuit for infringement, or unauthorized use of a work. And higher statutory damages can be obtained if the work is registered prior to the infringement.
We now know trademarks should be registered with the USPTO to obtain maximum, nationwide protection, and copyrights must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office to bring lawsuits for infringement. Trademarks can also obtain State trademark protection, as opposed to federal, in any State that the mark is being used in by filing with the State’s trademark office, typically the Secretary of State’s Office for any given State. Registering intellectual property keeps businesses competitive, and it can become a company’s largest asset. So how can we register trademarks and copyrights anonymously? For many businesses, forming an Anonymous LLC can be a wise solution. As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, certain states do not require LLCs to disclose ownership information, thus making them Anonymous LLCs. For example, here at L4SB, our clients’ Anonymous LLCs list only “L4SB” as the entity’s organizer and registered agent. There is no need to list the actual owners of the Anonymous LLC. Once the Anonymous LLC is formed, your business’s intellectual property can also be protected anonymously.
Trademark applications must be filed by the owner or assignee of the mark—the entity identifying itself as the source of the goods or services. The owner can be an Anonymous LLC. Once the trademark is registered, anyone can find the mark itself in the USPTO database, or a State trademark database, but the registered agent (L4SB in our case) is listed as the attorney and the correspondent for notifications, while the Anonymous LLC is listed as the owner of the mark. The process for registering copyrighted works anonymously is similar, with the Anonymous LLC listed as the owner of the copyright.
Whatever the reasons for keeping your business confidential, we can guide you through the legal process while protecting your assets. Registering trademarks and copyrighted works keeps businesses competitive, and an Anonymous LLC might just be the right solution for your company.
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