Trademark rights are created by using a word, name, or symbol in commerce in association with the sale of goods or services. See 15 U.S.C. § 1127. “The first to use a mark in the sale of goods or services is the ‘senior user’ of the mark and gains common law rights to the mark in the geographic area in which the mark is used.” Allard Enterprises, Inc. v. Advanced Programming Res., Inc., 249 F.3d 564, 572 (6th Cir. 2001). Federal registration provides nationwide priority over all others to use a trademark in association with the sale of the goods or services listed in the trademark registration. Id.
Since Great Lakes Proud LLC was the first to use the Great Lakes likeness/Illustration/Outline mark in association with the sale vinyl decals, Great Lakes Proud LLC obtained common law trademark rights to the Great Lakes mark.
Great Lakes Proud LLC owns a Registered Trademark to protect our brand. Great Lakes Proud LLC is the owner of numerous common law and registered trademarks for the Great Lakes illustration, outline and design. Great Lakes Proud LLC is the owner of federally registered trademark rights of the Great Lakes mark for use in association with vinyl decals. Below are links to Great Lakes Proud LLC's trademark registrations with the United States Patent and Trademark Office:
While this means that Great Lakes Proud LLC can prevent others from selling similar goods bearing the Great Lakes mark while using similar materials, it does not mean that Great Lakes Proud LLC can prevent businesses from truthfully indicating their location with the term "Great Lakes." For example, while it is trademark infringement to sell merchandise in this class bearing the Great Lakes mark, it is not infringement to state that your store is located near the Great Lakes. Trademark law is intended to protect against consumer confusion, Great Lakes Proud LLC enforces its trademark rights to ensure that consumers are not confused into believing that copycat and counterfeit goods originate from Great Lakes Proud LLC. As such, Great Lakes Proud LLC takes pride in the quality of its merchandise and the goodwill inherent in its brand, and it takes steps to ensure that consumers can continue to expect quality goods when they reach for goods bearing the Great Lakes mark.
The Great Lakes Proud brand and logos are protected, REGISTERED Trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce. Owning the REGISTERED trademark provides several advantages including:
- Constructive notice to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership.
- A legal presumption of the registrant's ownership of the mark and the registrant's exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration.
- The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court.
- The use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries.
- The ability to file the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.
What we're protecting - Integrity of Goods/Commerce
We want to be as transparent as possible regarding our Great Lakes mark and offer amicable solutions to those entities who wish to leverage our mark for their financial (or other) gain. There have been several copy-cat brands and products made and sold in commerce several years after Great Lakes Proud LLC achieved common law rights to the mark. We are obligated by law to protect our mark by sending cease and desist letters to these entities. If we do not protect our mark and brand as required by federal law, we are at risk of losing these rights.
The goal is to protect our consumers, so when you see Great Lakes Proud merchandise in your travels, you will be confident that it will look and feel as high quality as possible, and last for several years. Great Lakes Proud has set high brand and quality standards. These standards are often breached by the copy-cat entities. As such, there should be little doubt when you see merchandise with the Great Lakes mark that it was created by Great Lakes Proud. If there is any doubt about the quality, it's possible we didn't manufacture the merchandise. To be 100% certain, it would be prudent to ask the store/retailer where the product comes from.
We're very approachable and always encourage you to reach out to us email@example.com) with any questions to confirm whether or not a product you have purchased or seen is officially offered by Great Lakes Proud. Often times, if you picked something up that wasn't ours, and aren't satisfied, we'll still swap it out for a genuine branded product for free.
Part of the Great Lakes Proud mission from day one has been to give back. Our brand encourages a healthy, active lifestyle, and highlights our local area and businesses statewide. We have given back thousands of dollars to multiple regional nonprofit and natural resource conservation organizations since our inception. We also support vendors/suppliers in Michigan by using their services rather than looking out of state, or even outside of the US whenever possible. Our primary business is to sell our products wholesale to hundreds of retailers who are important contributors to their local economies.
Licensing the Great Lakes Mark
Great Lakes Proud LLC is very willing to support the use of our Great Lakes mark in commerce by other entities, in a formal, legal, and mutually agreed upon arrangement through a licensing agreement. We have a handful of licensees using our mark legally and without recourse. Every agreement is different, and we look forward to hearing from you to discuss possibilities. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.