Many businesses have a distinct product or service identifier such as a brand name or logo. It’s what people remember about your business; however, many businesses fail to take the effort to protect their right to use that name or logo. A trademark or service mark is any word, name, symbol or design or a combination thereof, used in commerce that identifies or distinguishes the goods or services from those of another. Here’s why you should do everything you can to protect your trademarks:
It’s why people remember your business.
It can be difficult to distinguish your business from your competitors; however, trademarks are a way to identify your company and attract customers to your product and/or service. Because trademarks are used as marketing and selling tools for a business, trademark misuse or loss means that it a business’ bottom-line may be impacted. Taking a few proactive steps early on, can help you protect your brand and business in the long-run.
Legal protection helps in the worst situations
Whether or not you have protection on a trademark, there’s always the chance of someone using it in an unfavorable way. There is a misconception that by incorporating a company under a specific name or registering a domain name enables the business to obtain exclusive rights to use the name chosen; however, registration of a company or domain name does not in and of itself prevent someone else from using a similar or identical company name. Rather, protection of names is dependent on the reputation and goodwill connected to that name. Trademarks have value and registering a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) allows you to enjoy stronger protection than a common law, unregistered trademark. You should first perform a search to see whether other parties are using a similar trademark to yours. In the US, whoever can establish “first use” in interstate commerce has superior rights. Once your application is filed, it generally takes at least six months to get approval, or longer depending on other similar marks and the volume of applications at the USPTO.
Trademarks are one of your businesses most valuable assets, so it is important for a business owner to take the necessary steps to solidify ownership rights.
Melody Ashby is a Senior Attorney at Meyer Law, a woman-owned, forward-thinking boutique law firm specializing in helping entrepreneurs and technology companies from startups to fortune 500’s with corporate, contracts, employment and intellectual property matters in Technology, Telecom, FinTech, EdTech, AdTech, HealthTech, Internet of Things, Financial Services, Telecom, Social Media, Real Estate, Marketing, Advertising and Healthcare sectors. Melody is a mentor at tech incubators and accelerators across the United States. Learn more at www.MeetMeyerLaw.com and follow us on Twitter @TheTriciaMeyer and @LoveYourLawFirm.