Many companies outsource their product labels to save on costs and maintain production efficiency. But when you break it down, is outsourcing really the most efficient route? Depending on your business size and needs, it could be more beneficial printing prepared food labels in-house.
Here are our top four reasons why taking label production in-house can be the better option:
1. Outsourced Printing Comes at a Price
While using another facility to produce your prepared food labels might seem like a giant weight off your shoulders, it may not necessarily be the case.
Outsourcing can end up severely delaying your labeling process, costing your business valuable time and money.
For example, if an outsourced label shipment becomes delayed, so will the orders your company was scheduled to have in stock and on the shelves. These delays will happen, as do errors.
Misprints can cause setbacks and affect the use by/sell by dates on your products. This is especially true for made to order businesses and prepared foods.
The best way to avoid these dilemmas is investing in a small, short-run digital label printer to easily bring production in-house.
On implementing short-run digital label printers in-house, Impression Technology Europe reveals, “Not only is the initial investment much more affordable but the cost per print is extremely low. After doing the math, most clients will find it will be much more cost effective than outsourcing and based on the output.”
Our main alternative to outsourcing, investing in an in-house digital label printer will not only save you time, but also reduce cost-per-label.
2. NOT ALL ENVIRONMENTS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Printing prepared food labels in-house has its benefits when varying environmental requirements come into play.
Just because some prepared foods need to be frozen, doesn’t mean the quality and appearance of your packaging should suffer. It’s important for your store’s frozen foods to remain cohesive with the rest of your prepared food line. After all, it is your brand.
However, using the wrong label for the products environment can lead to wrinkles due to condensation, fading due to exposure or loss of adhesion and labels falling off.
If your business is using regular pre-printed labels, chances are, the labels won’t hold up in your storage environment.
Ultimately, finding the correct label material is just as important to your printed results as your design. QuickLabel has developed special materials that are capable of absorbing the inks so that printed labels do not smear and reproduce the most accurate colors possible.
The ability to maintain complete control over your label materials and printing process will allow your business to have a streamlined, efficient process with branded labels that look the part.
One example of easy in-house printing solution is QuickLabel’s flagship Kiaro!, Kiaro! D or wide format QL-800 inkjet label printers. These printers are known for printing frozen food labels that are extremely durable and still generate high-quality 1200 – 1600 dpi imagery.
With the right in-house printer, you’ll have professional frozen food or beverage labels printed instantly and can be applied to products that are already frozen, or before they go into the freezer.
3. It’s Not Easy to Keep Up with FDA Regulations & Demands
Keeping up with the FDA’s changing regulations and formats can greatly affect your product labels. If standards are not met, your entire product line could suffer from massive recalls.
This intimidating process includes font restrictions, mandatory statements, allergen alerts and stringent calculations for daily values.
As a food manufacturer or grocer, you want to spend your energy on your recipes, production, branding and sales – not on interpreting FDA labeling mandates.
While it is absolutely necessary to adhere to FDA regulations to avoid recalls and present your customer with the quality and transparency they deserve, you can make it easier on your business.
This is where an in-house label printer truly shines. For every change in date, rule, format, etc., you have the ability to immediately customize your labels on the spot.
Printing prepared food labels in-house gives you the ability to print the exact number of labels you need for what’s in-stock, on-demand. Meaning no more wasted labels, no more overstock and no more falling short.
This gives you more flexibility in your printing process, as well as introducing the option for seasonal or promotional packaging.
4. Things Are Better When You’re in Control
Your labels are the face of your brand, so you always want to maintain professionalism and put your best foot forward.
If you want to be in control of your business and remove exterior dilemmas, it may be time to consider printing prepared food labels in-house.
If you’re interested in high-quality, short-run label printing in-house, feel free to view our line of complete labeling solutions, including software, media and a wide range of digital label printers from monochrome barcode printers to photographic inkjet color labeling systems and presses.
Or, if you’d like to speak with one of our field sales engineers or media specialists, feel free to contact us for more information! They would be happy to work with you to find the right solution for your application.
But while trying to catch the consumer’s eye, there are still regulations products must follow. So how can you make your custom cosmetic labels both attractive and effective?
First Things First: Product Requirements
Regardless of your product line, you need to be aware of the industry requirements.
According to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, it is prohibited to market cosmetics that are adulterated or misbranded as well as while in interstate commerce.
FDA regulations are required for any product, except soap, intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering appearance.
A cosmetics label is considered misbranded if:
- labeling is false or misleading
- label does not state the name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor or the net quantity of contents
- the required information is not stated prominently, with conspicuousness and in terms that it is read and understood by consumers under customary conditions of purchase and use the container or its fill is misleading
Read the full list of FDA cosmetics labeling standards here.
Make Compliance Easier
Ensure products meet all FDA regulations and easily maintain labels with an in-house label printer – this includes overseas, certifying compliance within each country.
Printing in-house also offers a much more affordable option compared to outsourced printing.
By printing in your facility, you have the ability to produce large or short runs of labels as needed with expiration dates, ingredients lists, allergen warnings, barcodes, organic and natural certifications.
Check out some of our favorite commercial color label printer options here!
Make Sure Your Products Have What They Need
In addition to FDA requirements, environmental exposure can require a higher need for durability.
If you offer lotion, body wash or facial cleansers, you may want to consider a printer that applies water-resistant labels. This will help protect your labels fading or peeling.
Utilizing these resistant labels will bring your products to another level of professionalism. By adhering to both FDA standards and product needs, your cosmetics will perform effectively.
Watch how CJ’s Unique Boutique uses their durable QuickLabel printer to label all of their lotions and creams:
Stand Out On The Shelves!
Looks matter in this industry.
Makers of cosmetics and personal care products don’t just need a lot of labels – they need a lot of different labels. One body lotion alone can be available in dozens of different scents, array of bottles, tubs and more.
Your product packaging is what makes you stand out from the competition. What catches eyes on the shelves can be the difference between the purchase of your brand over a competitors.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to enhance your cosmetics label designs, an in-house label printer is the best solution.
Not only will printing cosmetics labels in-house save money, but it is perfect for short-runs of seasonal products, new scents, sizes and formulations – especially when it comes to the design process.
Using your own label printer will allow you to control your label from start to finish – making sure it showcases your product as envisioned.
Make Your Custom Cosmetics Labels Attractive and Effective With The Kiaro!
“It’s a cost effective time saving printer. It creates excellent quality labels for our packaging, and I couldn’t be happier.”
– Ryan Flynt, CJ’s Unique Boutique
By acknowledging your products packaging design, durability of labels and FDA standards, custom cosmetics labels are able to function effectively while attracting consumers to your products.
If you’re interested in learning more about creating eye-catching labels in your own facility, feel free to check out our website!
Not all labels are easy to get approved. If you handle sanitation or chemical supplies, you know there are specific marks and content that must appear on the product labels.
In this post, you will gain insight into chemical and GHS label markings and how to label them. In addition, we will cover how utilizing an on-demand color label printer can provide the best labeling solution for your products.
What Are GHS and Chemical Regulations?
Janitorial and sanitation products are among the chemicals that require color-coded chemical hazard identification labels in compliance with GHS Labeling regulations.
GHS stands for Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, which are usually represented as red and black pictograms.
Also known as graphic symbols, pictograms are used to communicate specific information about the hazards of a chemical. The GHS regulation standards use a total of nine pictograms.
The purpose of these symbols are to provide workers with better information on the safe handling and use of hazardous chemicals, thereby allowing them (or anyone handling the product) to avoid injuries and illnesses related to exposures to hazardous chemicals.
To read more on each GHS classification symbol, with a more in-depth review of each, please view our white paper GHS Chemical Labeling Compliance: Requirements & Solutions.
What to Include on Chemical Cleaning Supply Labels
The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) states, “chemical manufacturers, importers, or distributors must ensure that each container of hazardous chemicals is labeled, tagged or marked with the following information: product identifier; signal word; hazard statement(s); precautionary 1 2 statement(s); and pictogram(s); and name, address and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party.”
Make Compliance Easier by Printing Compliant Labels In-House
Now that you have a better understanding of the labeling requirements, what’s the best way to create your labels?
If you are in the industry, you already know most GHS label printers offer the ability to print GHS compliant labels in just two colors, red and black.
An ideal durable label printer, QuickLabel’s Kiaro! D tabletop label printer has the ability to instantly print full color GHS labels in 1200 dpi resolution.
QuickLabel’s “D” printers produce durable, pigment based labels able to withstand water, dirt, exposure, abrasion and hazardous chemicals while maintaining color-fastness.
With a Kiaro! D, you can print your entire chemical label in seconds, including your logo and primary display panel graphics and the red and black GHS pictograms, text, barcode and serializations.
See What the Extra-Durable, GHS Compliant Kiaro! D is Capable of:
Printing in full color, 1200 dpi allows your compliant GHS labels to send two messages:
1. A responsible manufacturer has packaged the product safely.
2. The company logo and branding stands out from other competitors.
A QuickLabel printer provides valuable competitive advantages by maintaining GHS compliance and showing off signature brands.
Stand Out on the Shelves
While other companies are stuck with identical packaging, you have the option to stand out with custom messaging. Your custom label and verbiage will ensure customers and clients know exactly who manufactures their chemicals.
To get the perfect package, we recommend using labeling software in addition to an in-house label printer. Labeling software allows you to link your database of chemical descriptions with a label printer for accuracy.
With a robust color label printer such as the Kiaro! D and a fully-featured GHS labeling software such as NiceLabel, it is easy to become compliant and maintain compliance.
For more information on GHS and chemical labeling, feel free to read our white paper, GHS Chemical Labeling Compliance: Requirements & Solutions.
If you have ever enjoyed the scent of a rose, you’ve experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils.
A trusted partner in the essential oils industry, doTERRA defines essential oils as naturally occurring, aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants.
For hundreds of years, essential oils have been used for medicinal, beauty and cleaning treatments. So how can you make your oils stand out from the rest?
1. We Make Label Creation Simple
We know that makers of essential oil products don’t just need a lot of labels – they need a lot of different labels.
Instead of dealing with the hassle of an outside printing vendor, with the risk of costly re-prints, overstock, delayed shipments or wasted expenses, we give you the ability to control everything in-house.
Our in-house commercial label printers print labels in any quantity. They are perfect for short-runs of seasonal products and ideal for printing custom labels for new scents, sizes, and formulations. That means growing your line of essential oils doesn’t have to be difficult. With a QuickLabel printer, you can start printing off your new scents as soon as they are designed.
What’s more, our printers are designed to be user-friendly and specifically designed for narrow labels.
That means you can focus on creating beautiful aromas, and we can take care of the rest.
2. We Meet All Labeling Rules & Regulations
As you know, being a producer of personal care products in the USA, your essential oil labels must comply with the FDA standards.
With a QuickLabel printer, you can print ingredients lists, allergen warnings, barcodes, organic and natural certifications on demand; ultimately giving you the advantage of keeping up with the constant changes being made to label requirements as they go into effect.
We’ll help keep you one step ahead and easily producing FDA-compliant labels.
3. We Let Your Beauty Shine Through
We want your labels to be as beautiful as you’ve imagined.
At QuickLabel, we know the importance of personalization. Your brand has to be able to tell your company’s story to stand out from the crowd. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Our label printers allow for complete customization of your labels. And they don’t only look good on screen.
Our label printers have the ability to print in up to 1600 dpi at 12 inches per second. That’s fast, photo-quality imagery!
Especially helpful for narrow labels, our systems precisely print 3-point font to list every ingredient, percentage and note you need.
We’ll help you print stunning imagery, barcodes, pricing, expiration dates and ingredients all in one round.
4. We Make It Personal
We like to get to know our customers, too.
Stopping by CJ’s Unique Boutique in Colorado Springs, we were able to see how they use our label printer to create their personal care lotion and oil labels. See for yourself:
5. Finally, We Are Always Here For You
You can always reach out to us without hesitation. With representatives throughout the nation and around the globe, we are here for you.
Having over 40 years of experience and reliability, we not only have the support, but the resources to guarantee the best quality product on the market.
Interested in our in-house color label printers?
Contact us today to start learning more or set up a free in-person demonstration.
As soon as the winter holidays come to a close, it’s time to share the love. It’s the time of year that everything on the shelves starts being seen through pink, red and heart-shaped lenses.
But does it really work?
Do consumers really prefer the Valentine version of your product?
According to Packaging Digest, 65% of US consumers prefer seasonal packaging to regular packaging.
That means over half of US consumers are more likely to reach for the seasonal themed batch of goods. It’s all about the visual appeal.
Think about it, the main reason chocolates and baked goods are purchased during the month of February is due to the nature of Valentine’s Day. In spirit, the consumer will reach for the red heart chocolate bag instead.
According to the Complete Guide to Seasonal Packaging by Mary Davies, “in order to stay competitive with the big brands it is essential that you adopt seasonal packaging.”
In a Label & Narrow Web article, Superbrands founder Marcel Knobil supports Davies statement by expressing, “Thanks to impressive print packaging, brands can seduce customers into a change of purchasing vote at the point of purchase. We would end up with less brand and more bland were it not for the attention that the packaging attracts.”
So seasonal packaging is the right idea, but how do you know if it’s the right idea for you?
Davies expands, “a bakery is much more likely to benefit from changing their packaging than a stationary supplier. Think about your business model, your products and your customers and then decide whether there would be a benefit to using seasonal packaging.”
So if seasonal packaging is right for you, there are two important things to remember before you get started:
- Don’t confuse your customer
By not make your designs similar to another product you already offer, it could confuse your customer and cause them to shy away from the product altogether.
- Don’t overestimate
If you don’t have your own in-house label printer, it’s easier to make your packaging labels a limited time offer vs. overstocking on labels that will ultimately go to waste.
Whether you are a business small or large, it is definitely worthwhile to invest in seasonal packaging.
But where do you start?
To get the creative juices flowing, we’ll leave you with Hornall Anderson’s top tips of incorporating holiday packaging into your business:
- Create a tradition
Pair your product with something extra in the spirit of the season, and keep it going each year.
- Make collectibles
Packages that are part of a set or able to be repurposed in an innovative way.
- Make gifting easier
Gifting through unique or personalized packaging is beautiful enough to be a gift itself.
- Create a campaign
Build “fanfare” around your product launch.
- If you can’t avoid clichés, have fun with them!
Look for visual and tonal treatments that evoke the season without being overly dependent on overused symbols, or look for ways to turn them on their head.
Interested in creating seasonal or in-house labels today? Check out our website to learn more.
There’s more to labels than meets the eye. There has to be some consideration taken into the presentation, storage and intended use of the product. That’s why we’re here to make it easy for you. So what media products does QuickLabel have to offer?
What Media Products does QuickLabel Have to Offer?
We have four main types of labels and ribbons, each with a variety of options to best suit your product and design, whether it be beverage, shipping, medical, chemical labeling or more.
Let’s break it down for you.
1. Inkjet Labels
QuickLabel has developed special materials that are capable of absorbing the Kiaro! inks so that printed labels do not smear and are able to produce the most accurate colors possible.
Whether you choose a textured paper label for wine labels or a glossy clear synthetic label for cosmetics labels, there is an ideal Kiaro! inkjet label for you.
We don’t stock a large inventory of finished labels – they are made fresh to order. When you place your order, we produce each order from raw material, using our efficient just-in-time production management system.
QuickLabel also produces and sells die-cut labels for use on our own line of label printers and offer multi-color and single-color thermal transfer label printers that resists fading, abrasion, smudging, and incidental moisture contact.
We even sell labels for use on other printer brands.
Carrying over 100 different label and tag stocks, if we don’t have the material you’re looking for, we can source and test new raw materials to meet your end use requirements. Just ask one of our Media Sales Specialists!
See how Browndog Creamery uses our inkjet labels to not only create delectable designs to match their delicious ice cream, but how our labels maintain color-fastness and quality even in their freezing storage conditions.
To read descriptions of our inkjet label and tag materials, click here.
2. Thermal Transfer Labels
Enhancing print performance, QuickLabel’s Media Lab created our line of thermal transfer label materials. These produce excellent print quality and end-use durability – especially when used with QuickLabel’s own line of thermal transfer ribbons and label printers.
Our labels also produce high-quality printing on other brands of thermal transfer and barcode printers. Like the inkjet labels, all of our labels are made to order.
With QuickLabel, you have the choice of 70+ Materials.
We manufacture and stock over seventy different pressure-sensitive and non-adhesive printing materials.
To read descriptions of our thermal transfer label and tag materials, click here.
3. Thermal Transfer Ribbons (Black or Color)
The question is “What media products does QuickLabel have to offer?”, which means we are not limited to labels.
We also manufacture and sell barcode ribbon (also known as thermal transfer ribbon) for your barcode printer at a factory.
Our barcode ribbon is sold at a direct low price. From general-purpose black wax ribbon to black wax-resin ribbon and black resin thermal transfer ribbon for every thermal printer brand.
We also sell process color thermal transfer ribbons for our family of digital color label printers which use thermal transfer technology.
- Black Barcode Printer Ribbon: Wax, Wax/Resin, Resin, Premium Resin, Special Resin
- Color Thermal Transfer Ribbons: Wax, Wax/Resin, Resin, Premium Resin
4. Laser / LED Labels
We’ve even developed special materials that are capable of withstanding high fusing temperature while producing vivid, long-lasting printed labels. These labels can also resist moisture, UV light, abrasion, and most solvents – even without lamination.
Our labels are able to portray highly accurate design and multi-level shading for superior print quality and clarity. To read descriptions of our Laser / LED label and tag materials, click here.
Ultimately, we have label materials for any and all product labeling requirements. No matter what industry or storage specifications, we make sure our labels always remain durable and maintain high quality and color-fastness.
To shop our complete list of labels and ribbons and learn more about what we offer, check out our supply store.
All of us at QuickLabel® are happy to officially introduce our latest printer, the QL-111 industrial color label printer.
The QL-111 is different from our core line of Kiaro! printers because it focuses on the industrial and manufacturing industry. That is what it was specifically designed for: manufacturers who want fantastic looking color labels at high speeds with a low cost of ownership.
The QL-111 has been expertly crafted with ideal characteristics for industrial businesses. These label applications include cartons, outer boxes, bins, warehousing, barcodes, color codes, product identification, tracking and receiving.
So, what really sets the QL-111 apart from the others? There are a lot of things. But there are several traits that stand out.
Ultimately Made for Secondary Labeling
Printing in 600dpi, it produces high quality, durable labels, fast. While it isn’t a commercial display label printer, that doesn’t take away from its label quality and requirements.
The QL-111 industrial color label printer is able to clearly identify products stored in manufacturing facilities. Not only does it produce highly legible secondary labels, but it also allows you to print photos of products alongside barcodes in as small as 3 point font.
Print variable color carton labels for footwear, hardware, electrical products, lighting component and industrial products.
Time to Get LEAN
With a QL-111 industrial label printer, allow packaging lines to become LEAN, with limited waste and on-demand label printing for any size product run.
There’s no need to stress or delay over the usual two-step process of pre-printing color labels. The second step of over-printing labels with barcodes and variable data is costly, inflexible and prone to mislabeling errors.
The QL-111 maintains an essential part of LEAN manufacturing by allowing a step to be saved. By printing complete labels on-demand, there is no the need to purchase pre-printed labels and traditional barcode printers.
Starting from blank stock, the QL-111 prints industrial labels direct from digital sources such as enterprise systems, barcode labeling software or graphic design software.
The Champion of Compliance
The QL-111 can also be integrated with a variety of automatic labeling equipment, such as a CDA Application System or Rewinder. This can allow your labeling process to flow at faster speeds and higher accuracy. It also utilizes QuickLabel’s remote pause option for color print-and-apply automation.
The compact size of the QL-111 makes it easy to integrate into any production line or packaging room operation. It even allows for private labeling and compliance labels that meet retail customer specifications.
To get started printing color labels designed for your industrial label, warehouse or supply chain application, contact us today!
If you want to see for yourself, schedule a free on-site demonstration.
Learn more about the innovative and industrial QL-111 by visiting the product page!
Have you heard you can simplify your manufacturing process with Kanban cards? If you’re in the manufacturing industry, you should.
Kanban cards originated from the Japanese term “Kanban” meaning “visual sign” or “signal.” The physical cards became widely used during the 1940’s in Toyota’s manufacturing process to improve work flow and efficiency.
The simplicity of the cards allow for quick comprehension, ease of use and accurate control of inventory in the workplace.
Working in the manufacturing industry, you know how beneficial the Kanban cards are.
They help your company keep track of the parts you have, the parts (and therefore orders) you need, the deliveries you have scheduled or should schedule, and the demand of your products internally and externally.
But what makes the Kiaro! the ideal color label printer for Kanban cards? A lot of things.
The Kiaro! appreciates the need for high quality.
With the Kiaro!, you are not limited to having only a barcode or color code — you have the ability to include photo-quality pictures of the product or part along with a full product description on the card as well.
This makes it easier to verify a complete visual of what it is you need.
What’s more, you can print your cards in full color and 1200 dpi resolution. With that said, you’ll be sure to print with the finest detail and color accuracy.
This is especially useful for not only images, but the color coded cards distributed amongst different product lines.
And what’s more valuable than yours?
The Kiaro! has the ability to print at 8 inches per second. The edges are even perforated, so you can produce your prints as needed and separate them just as easily.
It certainly knows how to maintain productivity. No scissors, no cutting and no measuring needed. You can also check out our label slitter for larger productions.
It’s even easier than you thought. Just grab it and go.
The Kiaro! is never wasteful.
A forecast is usually one of two things: lucky or wrong.
Instead of having to predict how many cards to order, the Kiaro! gives you the ability to print your Kanban cards on demand.
Now, you’ll always meet your company’s needs. No more wasted supplies and no more storage rooms full of extras. You can print in batches of one and cut to custom lengths immediately with the optional Kiaro! tag cutter.
And, if you need to change something, you can reconfigure a process instantly without being burdened by the cost of scrapping pre-printed cards. You have the ability to respond to what’s actually being done and fulfill your precise needs with the highest accuracy.
All in all, these little cards make a big impact – but they can also become a significant pain to stay on top of.
With the Kiaro!, the process of producing Kanban cards remains effortless — and the possibilities endless.
It’s your visual indicator, it’s your reminder and it’s your record keeper.
Make your Kanban cards with the Kiaro! label printer and you’ll have everything your team needs to know on that little card.
The Kiaro! delivers Kanban cards efficiently, precisely and in a manner that’s most beneficial to you and your company’s continuous improvement initiatives.
Any Questions on How We Can Help Simplify Your Manufacturing Process with Kanban Cards?
To learn more about how the Kiaro! color label printer can save you time, money, and provide you with highly accurate color labels, click here.
Or contact us today by giving us a call, sending us an email or deciding to schedule your own Kiaro! demonstration!
When you design a label to represent your product, you want it to represent YOUR product – not someone else’s. But what about the possibility that another brand could mimic your label? There are ways to protect your label design from being copied or stolen: you can obtain copyright and trademark registration. Here is some useful information about how to protect your labels against infringement.
What Is a Copyright?
A copyright is a form of legal protection granted by US federal law to protect the authors of tangible “original works of authorship” for both published and unpublished works. These works include literary, musical, and artistic works. Examples of works that can be copyrighted would include things such as a book, song, movie, or in our case: your label.
A copyright grants the owner the exclusive right to display, reproduce, and distribute the work. Your copyright endures for the entire lifetime of the original author, plus 70 years following the author’s death!
Copyright protects tangible works of authorship such as label artwork. Trademark protects words, phrases, logos, symbols, or designs that identify the source of goods or services.
So, a copyright will protect your label artwork while a trademark will protect your logo and brand name.
Should You Register Your Label Copyright and File for a Trademark?
Technically, you own the copyright to your work the second you create it. However, it is a good practice to register a copyright as a way to document your claim.
Attorney Robert S. Salter, Esq., an expert in intellectual property law at Salter and Michaelson, recommends registering both a copyright on your label artwork and a trademark for the brand name and logo design featured on your label.
“If you have an important label that you think will get some exposure, you should register the copyright. Although not required by law, it is recommended that proper copyright notice be given, i.e., C in a circle, authors name or initials, and year of publication,” said Salter.
Salter continued, “In order to take any action against somebody, you do have to register the copyright.” Registering your copyright on your label artwork grants you the basis to enforce your copyright in any future infringement lawsuit.
Is Someone Infringing On Your Label Copyright or Trademark?
First, let’s keep the types of infringement straight:
Copyright protects the artwork of the label. If another brand knocks off your label appearance, that is copyright infringement. If the name or logo of the product is being infringed, that would be trademark infringement.
You may wonder how to determine whether your label artwork has truly been knocked off – the answer is that copyright law requires proof that an alleged infringer 1) had access to see your label before creating their own label, and 2) that the alleged infringer’s label is substantially similar.
According to Salter, “It is important to understand that if the similarity between two labels happened by coincidence, you have no legal recourse. In order to have trade dress rights, you need to have acquired a ‘secondary meaning,’ which requires that you have used the trade dress for more than five years. Most people are probably not going to be able to succeed on a trade dress claim.”
Proving trademark infringement is more straightforward, however. “You would have a better chance of seeking relief against an alleged infringer if the brand names are similar. I would recommend that you file trademarks for your brand name and logo design, and enforce your rights through trademark,” said Salter.
What Recourse Do You Have if Someone is Infringing On Your Label?
If somebody copies your label, the first course of action is simply to ask them to stop using the artwork or brand name. “A lot of times, what you just want is to get the other side to change their name or to change their label design so you can avoid any confusion,” said Attorney Salter. “Your best recourse might just be a cease and desist letter.”
Salter continued, “I would always try to settle the situation by sending out a letter first. If you’re dealing with another lawyer who’s knowledgeable, he or she is probably going to advise their client to do the right thing.”
What about the possibility of winning financial damages?
“It would depend on the overall situation,” said Salter. “I’m not so sure there would be money damages in situations where the artwork is copied. That would be rare.”
When Should You Get Involved in a Copyright Lawsuit?
If you believe that another company is infringing upon your label artwork or trademarked name, it’s important to realize that the U.S. Copyright Office and US Patent and Trademark Office will not intercede on your behalf. It is up to you to defend your rights.
According to Attorney Salter, “To me the most important factor [in considering whether or not to sue] would be to evaluate the situation to see what the alleged infringement is. Did the alleged infringer see your label and pattern theirs after yours? If that’s the case you would certainly have grounds to put them on notice. However, a lawsuit can really be expensive and take a lot of time.”
“Start with a cease and desist letter. Some people will just flat out file a lawsuit, but to me that doesn’t make the most sense. Sometimes you’ve got to file the suit in order to get the other side to come to the table, but not all the time,” said Salter.
What Can You Do To Protect Your Label in Advance?
The most important thing is to independently create your label yourself, to make sure that you’re not infringing on someone else. If your label design includes a name and logo, you’re probably going to want to protect them.
First, search the name to make sure it’s available, then file a trademark to protect the name. Next, assuming the label artwork meets the minimum degree of copyrightable material, (and there are some minimum standards for original artwork), you should put the copyright symbol on the artwork. Remember, in order to take any action against somebody, you have to register your copyright.
“If it’s an important label that you think will get some exposure, you should register the copyright,” Salter advised.
What is the Process to Copyright My Label?
If you wish to register any of your work for copyright you can obtain a registration form from the U.S. Copyright Office. There is a lower registration fee for online registration ($35), called eCo. If you prefer to register by mailing in a form, the cost is $50.
You will have to send in a copy or copies of the work that you want to copyright along with your application. Note: these copies are not returned to you, so if you send a “hard copy,” make sure it is not your only “sample.” If you file for copyright online, you can send copies of your work as electronic attachments. All samples will be entered into the public record.
If you want to file for trademark protection for your brand name or logo, you can fill out a trademark application online with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The application fee is between $275-$325, if you file online using TEAS, the Trademark Electronic Application System.
For More Information About Trademark and Copyright:
Copyright FAQs – US Copyright Office
Trademarks – US Patent and Trademark Office