As a filmmaker, there’s nothing like knowing the end is in sight for your production. As you complete any final steps, obtaining E & O Insurance will be an important part of ensuring distribution for your film.
Your E & O Insurance carrier will probably ask you for a Title Opinion as part of the application process. This document will help them assess the likelihood of a trademark lawsuit against your film’s title.
The Title Opinion is also for your benefit, as it gives you the information and advice you need to make a strong—and legally defensible—choice when selecting a name for your film.
In this article, we’ll give you a crash course that explores the basics of Title Opinions and how they can help save you time and money.
Here Be Dragons
Popular lore has it that medieval cartographers would mark unknown areas of the world with the ominous warning Here Be Dragons. It stood as a warning to travelers and seafarers that they were entering a potentially dangerous area.
The legal status of trademarks and movie titles can be as blurry and intimidating as the unknown parts of the world. Consider this article from Los Angeles Lawyer, which delves into:
- the different classes of registration available for film titles,
- whether certain classes of registration are legal, and
- how registration might proceed at the federal, state, and international levels.
The legal nature of trademarking a film title may be uncertain, but how trademark infringement can affect your film is not.
By the time you’ve been hit with a lawsuit, you are deep into marketing and promoting your film. The cost of changing your film’s title is huge, and the plaintiffs know it. They have your feet to the fire and will attempt to leverage that into a settlement.
Even if you believe you have grounds to defend your film, the litigation could be tied up in court for years, delaying or even canceling your film’s distribution.
Explore a Title Opinion
Trademark infringement lawsuits can come from companies that are not in the film industry. So while you may have diligently searched IMDb for potential conflicts, that’s not enough to be sure you’re protected.
A Title Opinion is a comprehensive search for all prior uses of the same or similar titles used in films, television shows, or other multimedia projects. It includes not only registered trademarks but unregistered ones as well—which might easily be missed if attempting to research on your own.
Moreover, a Title Opinion includes a legal opinion on the strength of claim for your current title and recommendations on how to proceed.
Charting a Clear Course
With a Title Opinion in hand, you will be able to assess any potential trademark infringements and make changes if necessary, before you start spending on marketing and promotion.
As a filmmaker, you are already adept at balancing the creative and the practical. A Title Opinion helps you make a clear, informed choice on how to name your film, and what risks may be associated with that choice.
Generally, Title Opinions are required by your E & O Insurance carrier before they will issue a policy. Ordering one early gives you time to brainstorm alternatives, if needed, and avoid costly and time-consuming rework on your marketing and promotional material. Bear in mind, however, that most insurance carriers will require delivery of a title report and opinion no older than six months.
Secure your Title Opinion today and be confident in the long-term protection of your film’s title.