John Blattner knows brands for a living. In particular, he knows what is trademarked, what can be trademarked, and how to stop another brand from infringing on your trademark. Why is this important? Because trademarks can protect a brand’s recognition and equity and that’s where trademark attorneys like John come into play.
John is a Member in Dickinson Wright’s Ann Arbor office. He practices brand creation and protection law, including trademark counseling, clearance, registration, maintenance, and enforcement both in the U.S. and overseas. He went into law after an 18 year career in publishing, marketing and nonprofit development which exposed him to his fair share of marketing and trademark issues.
“It was kind of a natural outgrowth [becoming a lawyer] of my publishing career,” John says. “I bumped into a fair amount of trademark issues that enable me to bring real-world business experience into my practice, including the fashion, financial services, cosmetics, sporting goods, automotive, technology, pharma, publishing and other industries.”
How can companies protect their brands? John says first to get clear on what trademarks you actually have. “I frequently look at a client’s web site and find names, slogans, designs, or other things that are functioning as trademarks but that the client isn’t fully aware of,” John says. The next step – especially when choosing a new trademark – is to do a clearance search to make sure someone else doesn’t already have rights: “There’s no sense setting yourself up for a cease-and-desist letter.” Then apply to register the trademark, not just in the U.S. but also in other countries where the business is or will be active. Finally, monitor the marketplace to make sure third parties aren’t infringing your rights.
All of these questions will form the answers to what John can do to help you protect your brand, especially if you feel another company or person is infringing on your brand. Trademark infringement can lead to confusion among consumers and dilute the strength of your brand in the marketplace. Proper protections need to be in place to combat trademark infringement.
John has extensive experience in IP enforcement, including a wide range of patent, trademark, copyright, and antitrust litigation in state and federal courts; appellate litigation in state and federal courts of appeals, including the Federal Circuit; and opposition and cancellation proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. All of this experience has led to an adjunct professorship at the Michigan State University College of Law where he focuses on trademarks and unfair competition.
“I teach my courses from a practitioner’s point of view,” says John. “You inevitably have to cover a lot of ground throughout the semester and I choose certain areas of law based on my experience. What I try to impart on my students is when you are learning an area of trademark law, to not only think about it from a lawyer’s point of view but to think about it as if you are the business owner as well.”
His prior career and his practical views on trademark law make John a valuable commodity to his clients. He hopes in the end, that his real-world experience and his passion for brand awareness will help his clients think about the legal implications first when trying to launch a new product/program rather than having to scramble afterwards when that inevitable cease-and-desist letter shows up on his client’s doorstep.