Today I had the opportunity to virtually meet with one of my favorite clients, DeAndre Dowell of NOCAP, to discuss the long journey towards achieving trademark registration. The transcript of the chat is below and the video will be available on social media soon!
Tamara: I know you wanted to talk about your no cap trademark. It's been quite a journey.
DeAndre: Absolutely. Two and a half years, nearly. I remember first meeting you back in April 2019. And here we are in . . . October, 2021. I'm telling you life is crazy. It's insane. But here we are fast forward and officially got the official federal trademark for no cap.
Tamara: Yes! Congratulations!!
DeAndre: I appreciate you. So I really wanted to take this moment not only to celebrate our victory, right, but also to kind of give the backstory as far as no cap the brand and everything has led us and gotten us to this point. So I don't know if I've ever even told you what no cap means. Are you familiar?
Tamara: I think you told me during our first meeting, it's basically like, we're not gonna take any bs from anyone.
DeAndre: Exactly. So no lies - telling the truth. The original line really was just CAP without the NO. So this was all the way back in mid 80s, early 90s, people were saying, in hip hop, especially you have artists that were talking about, well, "I go with all that high Cappin'," or, "bro stop all that Cap". So it's evolved over the years, to the point where it's gotten so far removed from the actual originator and creator of the phrase, but I remember sitting on my couch, I was just really dissatisfied with my position in life. Just feel like my energy and my presence was being taken advantage of and being taken for granted. I remember sitting there one day, thinking to myself, What would my ideal day look like? What would I be doing? So I'm looking around my apartment and at the time and I got a whole bunch of hats. People used to just give me mad compliments on how I always wear a hat. I had a tarot card reading with the lady saying basically you're going to start a business soon. And it's going to be a very low cost business. So I was looking at the house or my yard where everybody is all the time. What if I just started my own headwear fashion brand? And what would I call it? Like, what am I going through right now I'm going through a moment of truth. No cap, a play on words, with the caps and everything it was, it was instant is that's the highest level of thinking I've ever had in my life. And yeah, that's where basically it all started from. So my whole intent with the brand was to inspire people to live their truth, and to go after the things that they really want.
Tamara: To crown themselves the success.
DeAndre: Your mind is your most valuable resource. We simply just give it a voice. Yes. Yeah, absolutely. I started doing my Google Search when I started getting real serious as far as actually putting a legal business structure in place for the company. And I don't know if it was the name the credentials and might have been the face you popped up on the screen. And I end up pulling up to your office. And I gotta ask you, just from the clients perspective, right? What was your first impression?
Tamara: I remember she got a call and [the receptionist] like took some notes about this guy DeAndre he wants to talk to you about a trademark for hats and I was like, okay, you know, didn't really think too much of it. And you came in, and I thought hmm, he's pretty young. I wonder if he really knows what he's talking about. But then once you started talking, I was really impressed -- you had such a positive energy. I think that we both felt like this synergy. I was like, here's someone I can really help. And I remember telling you about the minimum fees and you were like, well, what if I just want to do the search? I gave you like a special deal because I really felt like I've got the knowledge I can really help this guy can make an impact in his life. And you know, why not? I wasn't crazy busy at the time.
So yeah, it's been quite a journey. I remember we actually did like a quick knockout search on the Patent and Trademark Office records to see if NOCAP was even available for use and registration. And I was like, no, sorry, it's taken. Right. And there were actually a couple applications pending for NO CAP. And then there was the NO CAP Car Club. And both of them were applications for apparel. And I was like, sorry, you have got to come up with something else. And you were like, but wait, isn't there some way around that? And I was like, well, they are still applications (not registrations yet). So, there's a lot of different things that could happen [along the way to trademark registration]. And those things did happen over the last two and a half years. We really have overcome a lot of hurdles.
DeAndre: Right? Absolutely. I'm just a firm, I'm just big on energy and the law of attraction. I honestly feel like if you honestly think and feel that you're worthy of something, and it must come to you, you know, somebody says they want like all want to win the battle. I'm in it to win the war. So that's actually another question I have for you. How often does that occur? Right? When you have a client that searches for a trademark, but there is already one [application filed] by a previous applicant? For one and then for two, how often do you encourage them to continue? As far as they're staying the course? Or do they just typically change them?
Tamara: That's a good question. From my perspective, as a trademark attorney, I always want my clients to register marks that are totally unique and have never been used by anyone. But as you can imagine, as more and more words in the dictionary get used up, that becomes more and more rare. It is always a stronger mark, if you make up a word. That's why Starbucks, and Lululemon are my favorite examples, because they're just made up words that don't mean anything.
When we do a search, and we see that something is taken, I'm almost always going to encourage clients to use a different Mark, to choose something new. But if they're really committed to it, like I have one now where my client chose a mark that sort of references his mother, it's like the name of the service. The mark has a double entendre, because it's the first three letters of his mother's his deceased mother's name incorporated into his company name. So it has a lot of sentimental value, you know, and that's another one where it's taken, there are a couple phonetically identical marks that already are in process, his is spelled differently. So we worked on it, he was pretty committed to that particular at least the first word. We added another element at the end, I don't remember either we added another word element at the end and or we added a design element to it to distinguish it from these other applications that exists.
So yeah, when someone is really committed, especially if they explain the true meaning, you know, we'll come up with whatever creative solutions we can to get around those hurdles. And sometimes it's just a waiting game like you and I basically have been waiting for two and a half years, you have the one application in front of you that was filed as intent to use. And then he never filed a statement of use. So that got abandoned. And then we had to ask the trademark office to clear that as a hurdle to your registration. And then the second one, I think, got an Office Action, but then he never responded to the office action. So we had to wait for his whole, like six month response time to expire. And then again, we had to request that the Patent and Trademark Office clear that as a hurdle to your registration. And then once those two things finally happened, and it was time for you to file your statement of use, I think we filed a couple extensions before we file the Statement of Use. Right? Right. Yeah. So then finally, you filed your statement of use and why no one opposed it. We were also wondering if maybe one of those prior applicants would oppose your application. They did not. That period of time has come and gone. So yeah, then your registration finally came two weeks ago, and that was an exciting day for both of us.
DeAndre: Absolutely. And I feel like we planned our success, patience, and we just stay solid and professional the whole time. I don't know if you remember who he actually ended up reaching out to [one of the applicants] within a week after we met. We just told him you're an entrepreneur and just getting my company off the ground. I've already invested X amount of time into it. 100% of the proceeds go to a homeless shelter and he had responded saying that he's going to bring this up and have a discussion with his business partners, right? So you're totally understand just let us know how you would like to move Forward, he never responded. And to me, that was really an indication like, Okay, he's not real serious about it, because I'm a firm believer, once again, how you do one thing and how you do everything. Right. So I feel like we were able to take advantage of these applicants negligence, and the lack of the due diligence that they didn't perform during the whole entire process. So I really didn't want to send any cease and desist letters or prompt him to do anything.
Tamara: Yes, you were just trying to fly under the radar and wait for the prior applicants to basically forget to do what they had to do. You know, it probably would have been a little different if they had trademark attorneys who were like, "hey, your deadline for response is coming up. If you don't respond to the Office Action, your application will become abandoned." But they both had filed their own applications. One of these days, I think they'll realize like, oh, shoot, that trademark, I don't have a right to it anymore. Now this other guy, DeAndre has had that happen, you know, they'll call up some attorney and be like, well, I thought I was in the Patent and Trademark Office records. But now there's this other guy. I don't get it.
DeAndre: We were just really focused on the long run, as far as you know, the finish line of where we ultimately want to be. Yeah, for me, I'm forever indebted to you. And, just to have you, Ms. Pester, you expedited the whole process with the expertise and the knowledge and experience in a better situation in life, it was very, very much look forward to continuing this relationship with you!
Tamara: Oh, me too. Well, I can't really say that I expedited it because you know, other than COVID stuff, you know, the Patent and Trademark Office is expediting applications that have to do with prevention of transmission of COVID. But otherwise, like, there's no way to expedite is just a waiting game. But I am also really glad that we met.
DeAndre: It was all divine, you know. So yeah, absolutely. Once again, I can't thank you enough. I'm just so other people that are watching this know that. I'm not casting people. A lot of people say it. A lot of people talking, but don't nobody own it. I do. Yeah. Absolutely. I'm going to hold it down for the culture and make sure that we do a righteous Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you again.
Tamara: It's my pleasure! Should we mention also that like, basically the day after you got the registration, you already got interest from people wanting to license it.
DeAndre: I was about to say we got big things coming. We're just getting started.
Peace and many blessings to you and I will talk to you very soon. All right,