When you’re first starting out as a new company, your intellectual property is one of your most valuable assets. The words and symbols you use to identify your unique brand and products can be key to the success of your business, and it’s important that you take all possible steps to protect them.
There’s no question that your business will suffer when someone else tries to use your company name or anything else that you rely on to allow potential customers to recognize your brand. That’s why it’s important to consult with a trademark lawyer to ensure you take all the necessary precautions to preserve your brand as this is not an area where you want to take your chances.
What is a Trademark?
Trademarks apply to any words, phrases, symbols, and designs that identify your company as the specific source of goods or services. Registering your trademark gives you ownership and usage rights for those words and symbols, and allows you to protect those rights in court if another party tries to infringe upon them. Also, being able to use the ® symbol gives your customers and competitors a clear signal that you’re operating a serious business.
Where do I start?
You know what a Trademark is as well as its importance, so how do you get there? What is the actual process of obtaining Trademark protection? The best route to go for ownership and exclusive rights is Federal trademark registration. Though there is a specific process for obtaining a trademark, it can still present a few obstacles along the way when getting into the nitty gritty depending on certain terms or phrases you use. Overall, unless you are an expert in trademark law, it is best (and significantly less stressful) to consult a trademark attorney to handle the details and address/respond to any push-back received from the government. And, should the worst happen, an attorney can represent you should your trademark be infringed upon and rectify the situation.
The first step in this process is ensuring that your mark isn’t already being used by another company. This tells you upfront whether or not you need to make a change to your name, but also avoids potential litigation down the road.While the name search might seem straightforward, it’s more than a simple matter of looking for business with identical names. If your name is similar, even though not identical, to an existing business, it could be considered likely enough to cause confusion that you can’t use it. Conversely, you may be able to go ahead even though your name is already being used so long as your company offers drastically different goods and services than the existing company does. Again, it’s not entirely black and white and is another reason you should consult an attorney that specializes in this area.
After you’ve selected your name and have confirmation to proceed, the next step will be to prepare your official application and file it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The process is not necessarily, it does take time, and there are certain pitfalls that can significantly delay you if you are not experienced in doing this.
Keep in mind, and be sure to discuss with your attorney, the fine line when describing what services you offer or goods you sell. On the one hand, you want to ensure your description is not so broad that it fraudulently covers things you never intend to produce. On the other hand, you need to be careful to not be so narrow in your description that it fails to cover your entire range of goods and services, including things that you might foreseeably add down the road.
Overall, what may be a seemingly straightforward process truly is not black and white or straightforward. The USTPO (the governing body overseeing Trademarks) can and is very likely to reject your application based on descriptiveness, genericness, improper Specimens (proof of use), and the many other grounds (this is called an Office Action from the USPTO). However, with attention to detail, foresight, and experienced counsel in this specific realm, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. A good trademark attorney will be able to respond to the USPTO office action and move your trademark along toward registration. At the end of the day, you will be established in your market, building brand equity in your properly protected trademarks that are growing in value, and you will be glad you sought legal assistance.
How we helped Terry
Terry Nguyen, Team Member, Techn
the nitty gritty
Let our attorneys guide you through all the necessary legal steps to ensure your company’s IP is profitable and protected.
- Trademark Applications
- Confidentiality Agreements
- Cease and Desist Letters
- Licensing Agreements
- Trade Dress
- Trade Secrets Protection
- Intellectual Property Assignments
Turn Your IP into Cashflow
One most commonly ignored revenue streams is monetizing on a company’s innovations. Let us prevent you from failing to protect your trademarks and patents, or missing out on licensing and other revenue-building opportunities that automatically grow your company’s bottom line. At Gouchev Law, we will help you protect all your trademarks and patents, and guide you towards wealth-creating IP strategies.
Forceful Defense of Your Trademarks and Patents
What if you’ve spent the majority of your budget on marketing your brand, selling your unique products and designs, and now someone comes along and copies it all? You need vigorous defense of your intellectual property from misuse and outright theft by business partners, competitors, and strangers both here and around the world. Not only is it possible to be proactive in protecting your IP, it can be absolutely essential to your company’s survival. We will help your company develop strategies to avoid theft and misuse and take legal steps to address and deter abuse of your company’s IP when it occurs.
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