The Journey took an odd turn this week. I was informed by legal counsel of an organization in my industry that my company logo violates their trademark rights. Ugh. That hit me hard. Granted, when I launched DP Consulting, LLC in September 2017, I had no idea if it would last. At that time there was still a 50/50 chance that I would return to working full time for local government. The reason I created a logo was because when I commit to something, I go all-in.
To create the logo I turned to logotournament.com. For $250 many graphic designers from all over the world proposed different design ideas. The one I selected came from some person in Italy!
According to the attorney who contacted me the association was made between my company and the other organization by two individuals, unrelated to either of our organizations. In my 16 years in local government trademarking is something I had never had to work with. It came to much surprise when I was accused of copying the other organization’s logo. The attorney on the phone was polite and courteous and offered to give me time to think, offered to speak to my attorney, and also offered me time to remove the logo.
After I hung up the phone, I felt really bad; a feeling that carried through the next 24 hours. As Indielaw.com says, “That sinking feeling in your stomach. For small business owners, that feeling comes with the territory. Sometimes, it’s butterflies. Other times, you’re flying down a roller coaster. But when you get accused of violating a law, it can feel like an
anvil got dropped.”
As with any negative emotion, your instinct is to fight. But after some coping and reflection techniques, it became clear to cut my losses. I pride myself in being an ethical and fair person and would not want to in anyway negatively affect another organization, especially one in my industry. It is also important to protect my professional reputation. As the attorney said when he called me, it was just about the logo, the name “DP Consulting” can still remain.
So the next day, I emailed the attorney, expressing my apologies to their client and removed my logo from anywhere I could find on the internet. I also informed my clients and business partners they were unable to use my logo in their publications. The hardest part was throwing away the business cards I had proudly designed and purchased. I have received numerous compliments on that logo in passing out hundreds of business cards this past year.
It made me feel good to just put the whole thing behind me and move on. After talking to some family, friends, and advisors, I came to realize that this is just a part of developing a business. This is what I signed up for to be an entrepreneur. Back when I signed up to be a City Manager I knew that there was always the hazard of having a public presence. Here, as a business owner, there are also hazards in the world of trademarking. Now I understand that I need to check in on trademarks. Lesson learned!
The key to being an entrepreneur is to stay positive. Here is the upside of this entire experience: You know you’re marketing is working if……you’re getting accused of trademark abuse!
At least I was able to salvage some of the logo I originally purchased. What do you think?