You might be wondering why Otter Things would be celebrating World Intellectual Property Day. Well, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…wait. Actually, back in 2010, a flicker of an idea flashed through my head. I love otters, and other people did as well, but there weren’t many places to find otter gifts and wares.
I started sketching otters for fun, and one drawing warmed my heart.
“You’re so cute,” I said to the line art on my sketch pad. “I otter be creating more like you.”
It was at that moment that my otter enterprise took its first breath. I began researching if anyone else had an e-commerce shop devoted to otters, and when I found there wasn’t any, I decided to market that niche.
Now, I’ll be honest with you, otter apparel and wares are a tiny industry, and I was nobody important. I had to work hard to let other otter lovers know that Otter Things was there for them. Unfortunately, just like little creatures in the wild, I could easily get trampled on the stomping grounds if I wasn’t careful.
I designed a whole line of illustrations with the “I Otter Be” slogan. Since no one else was using it, I decided to apply for a registered trademark. My illustrations were already protected by copyright the moment I created them. My slogan had a common law trademarked when I sold items with it in the shop. Even our shop name had a common law trademark, but the registrations gave them extra protection under the law.
You can tell if a name, phrase, photo, or illustration is protected by looking for specific symbols or numbers. Trademarked work has ™, a registered trademark has ®, and is used for any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services. A copyrighted work has © and is used for many types of works, including paintings, photographs, illustrations, musical compositions, sound recordings, computer programs, books, poems, blog posts, movies, architectural works, plays, and many more.
Patents are also protected intellectual property. A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. An invention is a product or process that provides a new way of doing something or offers a new technical solution to a problem. All new patents are issued a number, and the US Patent and Trademark Office grants millions of patents every year.
Copyrights, trademarks, and patents protect a person’s intellectual property. That protection isn’t just for the owner. The customer can feel assured that they are getting the “real deal” when they buy items with the appropriate marks. Here at Otter Things, we want to assure you that we only use legally created or licensed illustrations, and we give credit where it’s due. From Printful® and Bella+Canvas® all the way to the Papermate® pencils on our desks, we are proud of all the businesses that help make Otter Things’ products so fantastic.
So when you see one of those marks, respect the owner and use their works responsibly. One day, that owner might be you.