If you smelled a setup yesterday, you were right. “What are they up to now?” “They,” the Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois (CAGGNI), were soliciting new members at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference. You can learn more about CAGGNI at www.caggni.org.
If you are like me, (and I know I am,) you thought the brochure was from Ancestry.com. I’ve come to associate backlit leaves of that shape and color with Ancestry.com.
Copyright is one way to protect intellectual property, such as original artistic works. We recently had some discussions here about Find A Grave photograph copyrights. Some of you share with no expectations. Others want the law followed to the last pound of flesh. (See “Monday Mailbox: Ancestry Removing Find A Grave Photos?” and comments. Also see “Can I Get an Amen?!”)
I’ve also written about using contract law to protect intellectual property. (See “Can I Freely Copy Public Domain Documents?”)
This is a dangerous article for me to write because my understanding of trademarks is more limited than my understanding of copyrights and contracts. For example, I don’t know if Carol Burnett’s trademark ear tug is protectable intellectual property.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
A trademark is a distinctive indicator that identifies that a product or service originates from a particular source. A trademark can be registered with the government, or it can be established through usage.
Until researching this article, I didn’t realize that trademarks can be sounds or smells, or can include motion. Click on the number or musical note for each of these trademark sounds from the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In the unlikely event you can’t identify the trademark, click on the magnifying glass.
|If the sounds don’t work in an e-mail, try listening to them on the Ancestry Insider website.|
Ancestry.com’s Backlit Leaves
I assume that Ancestry has not registered a trademark claim on that particular treatment of backlit leaves. I further assume that if large numbers of us experienced the same confusion as I did—assuming that the brochure was from Ancestry.com—then Ancestry.com can still claim it as a trademark.
They might also have a copyright claim against this brochure. (See “Generations Network files suit against Millenia.”)
But the point of this article is to inform you that trademarks are a form of intellectual property protection that are separate and distinct from copyrights.
Wikipedia contributors, "Trademark," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Trademark&oldid=455518161 : accessed 15 October 2011).