Austin lawyer Francés Jones, Esq. acts as a guide to help local creatives secure their intellectual property.
By Samantha Greyson, Photos courtesy of Francés Jones, Esq.
Francés Jones left Corpus Christi for Knox College at only 16 years old, eager to tackle the world. Now, as a nationally renowned lawyer specializing in securing intellectual property through copyright and trademark, she feels blessed that the journey has led her to the opportunity to help so many people.
“I really think that my real interest [in trademark and copyright]was generated when I was in law school at New York University and I had an opportunity to take an entertainment law course, as well as an intellectual property course,” Jones says.
“I always had a plan,” she insists. “Because I understood the importance of businesses, I always had a plan of getting that background under my belt first. That’s why I went the Wall Street route first. While I was working on Wall Street, I was going to recording studios late at night, managing artists in the music realm. After I left Wall Street, I started working in-house with several major record labels. I segued from there into radio and advertising.”
Francés Jones, The Visionary Lawyer
Shortly after moving to Austin in the 1990s, Jones founded Francés Jones Law, now known as Soul Matters Firm – The Visionary Law Firm. The firm intent on protecting and fostering creativity and intellectual property.
“More and more people are understanding the importance of, when possible, trying to invest in real estate,” Jones says. “They understand the importance of establishing that type of legacy. But fewer people understand the importance of really owning and protecting and leveraging your intellectual property.
“There are a lot of creative people who, because they didn’t understand intellectual property, weren’t able to benefit on a long-term basis from their creative endeavors. So, for me, a trademark is an extension of that. Something that not only entertainment-related clients can benefit from, but all types of visionary founders can benefit from.”
Trademarks vs. Copyrights
Jones sees trademark and copyright as a way for creative individuals to grow their brand and establish security for their creative property. In the past, they have been intentionally left out of legal conversations that could protect them and their work. Jones strives to help diverse communities establish trademark and copyright.
“Trademarks and copyrights protect different types of intellectual property,” she explains. “A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services. A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work.
“A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services. This allows a person or company to establish a brand for their endeavor. Spanning from food and beverage, to musical groups, to cosmetics, etc. Copyrights primarily protect the rights of people who create literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other original works.”
“I like everyone who’s open to (creating and protecting their own work),” Jones said. “But I particularly have a fondness for people who’ve been underrepresented. Who might need a little bit of extra help navigating the system. I enjoy helping everyone, but I am particularly drawn to diverse communities who historically have perhaps not been represented. And trademark is a wonderful way for me to do that.”
Jones explained that moving back to Texas from New York City was like “coming home.” The immense creative energy that inhabits Austin dazzled her. Jones knew that through trademark and copyright, she could help secure the legacies of the phenomenal artists in the Austin music scene.
“[Austin] had the creativity, but we didn’t really have the business infrastructure to support it,” Jones says. “I helped to launch that. And I went to work for a law firm called Small, Craig & Werkenthin at the time, now Jackson Walker. They hired me to spearhead the launch of their corporate and entertainment division. That was really the first time that a major major law firm in Texas had really gotten behind the entertainment community.”
Jones even served on the Austin Music Commission. Along with Nancy Coplin, they convinced The City Council to officially deem Austin the “Live Music Capital Of the World.”
Now, Jones continues to protect the intellectual property of Austin artists and musicians and all other types of creatives as well. Whether that be health and wellness entrepreneurs or food and beverage founders.
“My ideal client is a visionary founder who wants to make an impact,” Jones said.
For example, she is currently representing Jeany’s Caribbean Elixirs, a Black woman-owned business where the founder brings the juices and recipes from her childhood to an Austin audience.
Jones reiterates that she is most excited to help clients from diverse backgrounds, including women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“If you’re the first, then you don’t have someone to advise you,” Jones said. “It all comes down to lack of knowledge and lack of access. If you haven’t been at the table historically, you just don’t know. I’m trying to do my part to help that.”
“I’m an advisor. They’re the visionary founders. When they share their vision with me, I help advise and guide them on the best steps forward to help that become a reality. And I love it.”