Jerz Life: Shahrina Ankhi-Krol of Ankhi-Krol Law Firm USL March 21, 2016 Jerz's Life, USL Stories Welcome to a brand new edition of Kicking off 2016, I thought it would be great to allow our readers and bloggers to learn something new all year. It’s also Women’s History Month and we’re celebrating and recognizing women who are making a difference in their communities, industries, and families. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Mrs. Shahrina Ankhi-Krol of Ankhi-Krol Law Firm located at 112 West 34 Street in New York City. I had a fascinating conversation with her about your copyright and trademark and what it means for your brand. Ayasha: Thank you, Shahrina for allowing me to interview today at your office! Shahrina: You’re Welcome! Ayasha: Can you tell us about your business? Shahrina: I work with small and medium-sized businesses providing four main services: business law, contract law, copyright law, and trademark law. It sounds like a lot, but it’s really not. These are usually the four areas that small and medium businesses would need the most help in, so I try to provide this under one roof. So you are not running back and forth with different companies or different firms, you feel like you are developing a relationship, which is much easier than having to run around to several companies. Ayasha: Sounds great! Are you a member of the bar in New Jersey and New York? Shahrina: Yes. Ayasha: What kind of clients does your firm usually attract? Shahrina: I have clients ranging from anywhere from literally a bread marker…. not someone that just earns money, but someone who actually makes bread! Also, gym owners, pet business owners, fashion designers, they run the whole gamut. Ayasha: What is trademarking? Shahrina: The trademark basically protects your business name, logo, slogan, or product name. So what do I mean by that? Think of Nike. The word Nike is a trademark and then the check mark is another trademark. The Nike slogan is another trademark. Another way to think about the product trademark would be Starbucks. Now, Starbucks makes Frappuccino drinks. You will not see the word Frappuccino elsewhere because Starbucks has trademarked the word Frappuccino and you will not see this word used at any other coffee shops or stores. If someone decides to use Frappuccino on their products, then Starbucks will be suing them. Ayasha: Very interesting! Shahrina: Another trademark is can think of is Christian Louboutin shoes with the red soles and heels underneath. It is not a logo or a name; it’s just a color, but it has become so well known that it is tied to that product; only they can use red soles and nobody else. Ayasha: How soon would you suggest business owners or individuals start the process of getting their name or business trademarked? Shahrina: They need to do it as soon as possible. Ayasha: How would you go about trademarking? Shahrina: I would suggest that you hire an attorney and not do it yourself. I am not saying this because I am an attorney. I am saying this because I care about your wallet, believe it or not. If you come to me or any other attorney after you have already screwed it up by trying do it yourself, we charge you more because we have to undo everything. I would suggest that you consult with an attorney as you are thinking about trademarking your brand so you can start the trademarking process from the very beginning. Ayasha: Does trademark differ from state to state? Shahrina: There are state-based trademarks, then there is also the federal trademark, which is the United States Patent & Trademark Office. Basically if you are filed and protected under the United States Patent & Trademark Office, you’re protected throughout the entire country, not just one or two states. Often, I see clients that have spoken to lawyers who told them to file in their particular state, but really that is not doing them much justice. Someone else can use the same name somewhere else. I always tell my clients to get protected federally and not just in your own state. Ayasha: I learned something new. Very useful information! What is copyright? Would an image fall under copyright law? Shahrina: Yes, images fall under copyright law. The way I explain copyright law is that it’s the right for you to copy your own work. Your copyright belongs in the original work that you produce. So let’s say you took a picture; that is your own work that belongs to you. Only you have the right to copy that work and use it for something else. However, the second someone else copies it, it becomes a problem. When you look at the image online, it is so easy nowadays to click, copy and paste an image to use it. Right now, there are a lot of copyright issues going on. Ayasha: Is it the same process to copyright vs trademarking? Shahrina: Yes, the individual or business owner who is going through the process of copyrighting their product would have go through the same process as trademarking. The procedure is the same. Ayasha: Is there a difference process for profit and non-profit businesses when comes to trademarking and copyrighting their brand? Shahrina: No, there is no difference and the process is exactly the same. It is no difference based off of non-profit or for profit businesses. The government treats all of us the same way. Ayasha: So is an image actually considered a copyright, not a trademark? Shahrina: Actually an image can be a trademark. Let’s say you take a picture of a chair and that’s your copyright because you took the picture of the chair. When can that image become a trademark? If you start to use that image as the logo of your company, then that can be trademark. Trademark is the mark of your trade. What distinguishes your trade from the rest any other trades? It’s the mark of your trade … trademark! Ayasha: Can you tell us about your niche business in the pet industry? Shahrina: I have niche businesses in the fashion and pet industries. Let’s talk about the niche practices in the pet industry. I work with businesses that deal with the needs of dogs and cats. For example, let’s say you have a pet store that sells pet gear such as leashes, beds, etc. The pet store has a business name so that would be a trademark. The pet store has a logo that would be a trademark. Now, say if the pet store takes pictures of dog models, that is a copyright. Because that dog model is not representing the business, it is just a picture that they are using. Ayasha: Say, for instance, someone is selling their products online and the person finds out that someone in China has stolen and replicated their product. Is there any legal recourse? Shahrina: Well, first, you are talking about China. We are talking about a black hole because nothing is coming out of China. Trademarks and copyrights are regulated per country. Just because they are protected in United States doesn’t mean that they will be protected in Canada, the United Kingdom, Finland, or Switzerland. If you want to protect your copyright or trademark, you would have to do it on a country by country basis. For the record, China has its own craziness going on. Ayasha: What would be your suggestion for independent music artists who send their music to celebrity DJs, producers, artists and other music industry representatives? Shahrina: When talking about music, you are talking about copyright because it is your original product that you are sending out. Music is also copyrightable. Before you send things out for your music, make sure it is protected under the copyright law so even when someone decides to steal it, you can then sue for copyright infringement. Without that protection in place, you are really going to be in a battle. Now ask yourself this question: who is going to have deeper pockets, you or the multi-millionaire producer? More than likely, it will not be you so it is easier to focus on getting everything protected by registering with the copyright office, which is something I do on a daily basis. In fact, I work with a lot of entertainment clients too because of the nature of the work that I do. In addition, you can ask the producer, DJ, or music industry representative to sign non-disclosure or non-compete agreements, which they probably won’t sign. This is sometimes just the nature of the beast, but in that case if you still have your music protected under the copyright law, then you do not need to sign anything. Because your music is already protected, even if they refuse to sign anything you will still have recourse. Ayasha: Let’s say if someone would have to go to court, how long would a trial take? Shahrina: Trial would take too long, and is usually way too expensive for a person to go through because it would be a huge company. I honestly don’t know too many individuals that can keep on fighting a huge company. In a nutshell, be proactive. Do you want to spend a lot of money with me trying to undo everything? Or do you want to spend a little bit money doing the right thing? Ayasha: How would people be able to access your services? Shahrina: You can find me online http://www.ankhikrollaw.com/ or you can call or email me whenever is convenient. I don’t have to necessarily meet with you. I am very modern. In fact, I never have met some my clients before, but I represent clients from all over the United States. Because trademark and copyright law is federal, I can meet with anyone in our country. Ayasha: That’s sounds great! Shahrina is nationwide. Her brand reminds me of Allstate. Shahrina: Yes, I am everywhere! I talk to clients on Skype, Facetime, or over the phone. I love that I can be relevant in today’s day and age. I am not an “old typical attorney.” I also try to make my brand that way too so I am more accessible to people who understand and appreciate it. Ayasha: Thank you, Shahrina. I learned so much about the importance of copyright and trademark for businesses. Again, make sure you go to http://www.ankhikrollaw.com/ Call 212-729-6153 email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started with services for your small and medium size business today. I look forward to bringing you our next new blog post in April. 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