If you have ideas for unique plush toys, the right thing to do is to do everything you can to protect them. Stuffed toys are very profitable and if you don’t cover all the bases to protect your ideas, “enterprising” people will take advantage of it. They will do it “legally” because you didn’t do things to legally protect them. The last thing a toy inventor would want is to see his cute stuffed toys on display somewhere and he doesn’t legally own them.
There are three things you can apply to protect your plush toy ideas: copyright, trademark, and patent. So what can you personally do to protect them? Here are the things you can do to protect copyrights, trademarks, and patents on your exclusive plush toys:
Copyright protects the overall appearance of your toy. For cuddly stuffed animals, protect their “cuteness”. It will cover the aspect of the face, the proportion of the body and others. The characteristics of the toys are probably the most important factor to protect, since they are the most obvious and their selling point. Copyright is automatic: the moment you put your idea on paper or even a napkin at the neighborhood grocery store, it’s legally protected by copyright. However, it is better if you can document it so that it is easier to enforce. How do you document it? Many people believe that mailing a copy of their idea to each other is the way to go. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. The best way to protect your stuffed toy ideas is to keep a note of all relevant information that shows you as the owner of the idea. A notebook would do. Just make a note of all your ideas and when you thought of them. You can add additional information about how you came up with the idea and where it came from. To further enforce, take notes on all witnesses. As in any legal proceeding, witnesses can win your “case” for you.
Trademarks protect the names and logos of their toys. Basically, the brand of your toys is protected. Your unique stuffed animal should have distinctive names so you can do things to protect it. An example of a registered trademark is the name Barbie. Nobody can use Barbie as a name because it would be violating their trademarks. This is a bit expensive and not all toys should be covered by it. The best way is to seek legal advice from an attorney to see if it makes sense to apply for trademarks in your own case.
This is the most expensive of the three. In addition to being expensive, it is also the most difficult to obtain. As the inventor of cute plush toys, it’s good to know you probably won’t need them. But just like trademarks, it’s best to seek legal advice from an attorney.
So check what applies to your stuffed animals to find out how you can protect them. It will be one of the best things you have ever done as a toy inventor.