Black entrepreneurs face many unique challenges when developing and maintaining their businesses. They are also often at risk for trademark theft. Earlier this year, Shanae Jones, owner of Ivy’s Teas, found herself in a situation where she had to take legal action to protect her name and she alleges that a Colorado-based shop used her #TrapTea branding. Now, she is helping other Black women entrepreneurs protect their brands with her newly established trademark fund.
“After an experience with someone using my trademark to promote their business, I, for the first time, felt that comfort you get when the law is on your side. Knowing that I have legal protection and an attorney on my side to make sure no one can change what my business stands for is very comforting because overnight one bad move, one viral tweet, and everything you’ve built can be canceled,” explained Jones in an email interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“It took a long time to make enough money to spend on a trademark, so the only thing I wish I had done differently was possibly trademark sooner,” says Jones. “I want others to see my story, see that I’m not sweating this issue, and follow in my footsteps. What would’ve been a tragedy for others who don’t have protected brands, is actually an opportunity for me to do some good for another Black woman entrepreneur with The Black Woman Trademark Fund.”
“The Black Woman Trademark Fund is my way of giving back to Buy from a Black Woman, a community of Black Woman entrepreneurs,” said Jones. “With the fund, I have an opportunity to give another Black woman entrepreneur/creative the comfort I have. Hopefully, [other entrepreneurs] will never need it, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in business—it’s that you almost never know what to expect.”
“It’s very challenging to run your own business. And the truth is that most of us don’t make much money,” she added. “When you add in other factors that may cause socioeconomic disadvantages, like being Black or being a woman, we oftentimes make even less. Trademarking your business name, logo, or tagline is extremely expensive.”