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Trademarks for small businesses in little towns

By David French

I visited a wine tasting opening event for a make-it-yourself wine business in Shawville, Qu├ębec recently. While reclining in comfort, I considered the question: “Do intellectual property rights matter for small businesses in little towns?” IP rights refer to patents, trademarks, copyrights, secrets and a few other subtle types of non-tangible property rights. Everybody’s always interested in patents because they think patents are a ticket to getting rich. But this happens so rarely that I would like to skip to the most important IP right: trademarks.

What is a trademark? Before answering this question, there is a key issue that is worth considering: After you spend all your money on advertising and promotion, including printing letterhead and handing out business cards, what do you have left in terms of value? The answer is people’s impressions and memory of you and your business. And how are people going to remember you and your business? That is where a trademark comes in.

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