Many black women have decided to transition from relaxed to natural hair texture. Although this is a beautiful and empowering experience, it can often be a real struggle. When transitioning from relaxed to natural (and even after transition), retaining moisture and proper detangling is key. Therefore, products designed to make natural hair more manageable are essential to the ladies who rock natural hair! Hence, the natural hair care industry can be very lucrative if you have developed a must have product for natural hair. For example, Gwen Jimmere, founder and CEO of Naturalicious, recently made history for being the first black woman to receive a patent for a natural hair care product developed for and targeted to women with curly, coily and kinky hair textures. Obtaining intellectual property is essential for your brand recognition and to facilitate strengthening consumer loyalty. Do you have a natural hair care product that you would like to protect? If so, here are 5 ways you can protect your product.
1. Patent you natural hair care products.
Considering Jimmere’s success story, it should be obvious that you should consider applying for a patent to protection your brand. The benefits to applying for a patent for your products include, but are not limited to,
· ability to stop others from selling a competitive product; and
· increased profits.
Please see my article, “5 Reasons to Apply for a Patent” for an overview of why patent protection is important for your brand.
2. Is your natural hair care product a trade secret?
Contrary to patents, trade secrets are protected without registration, that is, trade secrets are protected without any procedural formalities. Consequently, a trade secret can be protected for an unlimited period of time. However, there are certain some conditions for the information to be considered a trade secret.
· The information must be secret (i.e. it is not generally known among, or readily accessible to, circles that normally deal with the kind of information in question).
· It must have commercial value because it is a secret.
· It must have been subject to reasonable steps by the rightful holder of the information to keep it secret (e.g., through confidentiality agreements).
It is important to note that compliance the conditions above may turn out to be more difficult and costlier
3. You can use trade/service marks to protect your natural hair care products.
Since a trademark is used to identify the source of goods or services and is used to distinguish the goods and services of one seller or provider from another, you could effectively market your brand by selecting a mark that you distinguish your products from your competitors. For example, when you see “LV” on a purse, you can identify the designer of the purse—even if the purse is a knock off.
4. Using copyrights to protect your natural hair care products.
Copyright law covers almost all forms of creative output, including
· commercial items (e.g., advertising copy),
· product photos,
· packaging illustrations
· Images used on your beauty product
· Video and music used in product advertising
· text on the beauty product itself or on product flyers,
· advertisements or inserts is also copyright-protected.
If you created the text or graphics yourself, then you are the copyright holder. If you hired someone else to create the material, then the contract between you and the artist should specify who holds the copyright to the materials to avoid any legal ambiguity about ownership.
5. Protecting your natural hair care products with a trade dress registration.
Trade dress generally refers to characteristics of the visual appearance of a product or its packaging that signify the source of the product to consumers. Trade dress is a type of trademark that refers to the image and overall appearance of a product. Trademarks protect brands and the goodwill associated with the brand.
Ahaji Amos is patent and trademark attorney with 17 years of experience in intellectual property litigation and prosecution at Ahaji Amos, PLLC, a law firm that represents startup and small businesses in all matters including patent prosecution, trademark prosecution, copyrights, trade secrets, oppositions, cancelations, equity funding and commercial litigation. Ahaji Amos, PLLC is dedicated to representing entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators.
This article is for information and advertising purposes and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed in the absence of a fully written and executed engagement agreement between Ahaji Amos, PLLC and its clients. Ahaji Amos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found at https://ahajiamos.com.
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Ahaji Amos, PLLC