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Jason Blair
Principal Attorney, Trademark & Advertising
Munck Wilson Mandala

Join us on Thursday, March 3 at 3:00 p.m. CT as we visit with this month’s special guest, Jason Blair, an attorney focusing on Trademark and Advertising law.

Jason has a deep knowledge of intellectual property matters, with an emphasis on trademark, trade dress, and copyright issues, with a unique perspective on start-ups. As a musician and entertainer, he approaches his career in law with an affinity for the creative mind. A professional singer and pianist from the age of six, Jason began his childhood career performing in Branson, Missouri, and eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he not only performed as a musical artist, but also worked in music production and promotion with several major label recording artists. Jason’s knowledge of music theory and audiology are useful in sound mark and copyright matters, and his experience in artist promotion is invaluable in brand development and marketing strategy. He lives in Austin with his wife and their triplets, restoring classic cars in his spare time.

Q: Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a trademark and copyright attorney who assists companies and marketers identify, clear, and protect their marks, brands, and intellectual property that create consumer goodwill.  While most people think of their trademark/branding as simply their company or product name or logo, I also focus on the “non-traditional” trademarks that consumers may recognize as a brand.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a leader and having a personal brand?

I got into intellectual property law because I get to work with such creative people, who are also appreciative of their attorney having a creative background, as well. While all legal specialties can be combative at times, intellectual property practitioners tend to be more cordial and collaborative with each other compared to other areas of the law. It’s always a great feeling to come up with a solution where two competing parties find the outcome to be advantageous.

Q: What do you find most challenging as a leader with a public, personal brand?

Battling the perception that trademark counsel is just a waste of money. Clients often feel that they understand the intricacies of trademark law because it deals with consumers, and after all, everyone is a consumer… So many people think, “what does this lawyer know that I don’t?” I also deal with marketing departments who try to avoid legal at all costs, because they think “legal will just tell us no.” When in reality, coming to legal gives us the opportunity to work with marketing to get to their eventual goals.  Maybe I can only get a marketing team 80-90% of what they want, but that’s better than going for 100% and ending up in a lawsuit, right?

Q: Do you have a mindfulness practice? If so, what are some of your rituals?

I’m a Christian, so I try to spend time each morning reading in the Bible at least a little bit. When I start to feel overwhelmed, simply taking a moment to pray, telling God that I know he’s in control is surprisingly calming.

Q: Do you have any consistent branding practices (social media, video, blogging, etc.) you do?

Consistent branding is such an important part of building consumer goodwill and recognition in a brand, but it’s amazing how many clients are all over the map in their branding. Sometimes they display their mark in two words, and other times, they display the mark in a single word…. Or they invert the colors, or add additional generic terms or designs right in the middle of it.  This dilutes the value of a brand, which can make it harder to enforce against others.

Q: Leadership (and branding) today requires so much of ourselves. How do you show up authentically and also keep your battery charged?

I absolutely LOVE trademark law! Trust me, it’s tough and draining sometimes, but more often than not, it charges me up. Being a dad to triplets, I kind of joke that trademark law is my easy job. I really get excited when I run across a brand I’ve been working on since its inception on a store shelf! My wife kind of gets tired of me blurting out “Hey! That’s my client’s new brand!” while we’re walking through Target!

Q: What one difficult lesson continues to regularly guide and inform your career?

I had a time in my life when someone had promised me a career advancement if I met certain goals… Yet when I met and exceeded those goals, the advancement didn’t happen. I could have chosen to be resentful, but instead I forged ahead with a new plan. We can’t let our lives be defined by “this is not how it was supposed to be.”

Q: What has been the most satisfying victory in your career? Lessons from that?

Being that I’m bound by non-disclosure ethics rules and the attorney-client privilege, I can’t get into detail. But in general, we had a client that was in a dispute with a VERY large company with an almost unlimited budget, and one of the biggest, most expensive law firms money can buy. It was easy to get intimidated by that… but just because they had all that firepower didn’t mean the other side had a better legal position or grasp of the law. They made some miscalculations, and we won. The lesson I learned is that no matter how “big league” you get, people are still people… Some are very good at what they do, some are adequate for the job, and a few really don’t know what they are doing. Don’t be intimidated by a competitor just because they seem bigger and scarier.

Q: What sort of questions would you love for our guests to ask you on Being Marketers?

  1. What are some protectible aspects of branding that are not simply a company or product name?                                                          
  2. What is the difference between a trade name and a trademark? Isn’t getting my DBA or LLC registered with the state good enough?                                                                 
  3. What are some things to keep in mind if I want to use my brand outside of the US?
  4. When should I talk to a trademark attorney when starting a new company, rebrand, or marketing campaign?
  5. I’ve used my company name and brand for years without a problem, I don’t need to be concerned about talking to a trademark attorney, right?                                                                                   

Q: What are you reading or listening to (podcasts or audiobooks) right now that you would recommend?

My friend Will Sterling has a new podcast called History. Rated R. It’s a great look back on some of the unspoken scandals in our history, showing that our nation’s history is messy, but not doing it in a way that’s overly judgemental.

Want to learn more? Follow our Root + River webcasts to join the conversation, ask questions, or listen to past episodes.

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