Search and clearance of third party intellectual property rights is an important early step in any business venture. It enables a company to make informed decisions about risks before investing in a trademark, brand, concept, design or creative product that may be subject to someone else's intellectual property, privacy or publicity rights.
The consequences of not properly searching and clearing third party rights can be costly and disruptive, particularly for a small business. They can include having to change a business name or brand name (and losing the goodwill associated with it), not to mention the significant costs of re-branding. They can also include having to cease offering a key product or service or being faced with a lawsuit and a claim for damages.
Clearance review is important in publishing and film and television production where content can be subject to third party copyright, trademarks, privacy rights or rights of publicity. A proper review (which is often required for insurance purposes) will ensure that appropriate permissions are sought, can inform editorial decisions and minimize the risk of surprises. Particularly in this context, a proper clearance review needs to balance the risks of liablity with practical realities (e.g. the risk of actually being sued), artistic considerations and budgetary concerns.
At Shift Law, we bring a practical approach to search and clearance that is designed to help clients make informed decisions without letting caution get in the way of good ideas.