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 can suffer great damage if someone else tries to you use your company name, slogan, logo, or general look and feel of your brand. Trademark copycats are those trying to use make money on the brand recognition you work so hard and pay so much to build.
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.
So, how do you go about obtaining trademark protection? Federal registration of your trademark is the best way to claim ownership and exclusive rights to use your mark. Anyone can file for a trademark, but to have maximum protection there’s a clear process to properly obtaining a trademark, and that’s where a trademark attorney comes in to ensure that you’re covered when trademark infringers try to threaten your brand.
If you work with a lawyer you should make sure they run a search to make sure that your mark isn’t already being used by another company. Remember that if your identical mark isn’t being used doesn’t mean similar ones won’t be an issue. While the name search might seem straightforward, it’s more than a simple matter of looking for business with identical names on Google or on the USPTO’s website. 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. If all that sounds confusing, you’re not alone. After all, you’d rather know now if you need to change your name, and you also want to avoid any possibility of lawsuits down the road.
After the trademark search, the next step is preparing your official application and filing it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The process does take some time, and there are certain pitfalls that can trip you up if you try to do it by yourself. First you must decide on whether you should do a use-based or an intent-to-use application. Then you want to consider a design mark versus a word mark application. Another thing to decide if you’re doing a design mark is whether to claim color as part of the mark or not (there are strategic reasons that would be the basis of that decision).
It’s also important to make sure that you accurately describe your goods and services. On the one hand, you don’t want your description to be so broad that it fraudulently covers things you never intend to produce. On the other hand, you don’t want to be so narrow in your description that it fails to cover your whole range of goods and services, including things that you might foreseeably add down the road. Our trademark team understands the time and effort you’ve put into building your brands. We’re will help you find the right balance and get you the protection you need.
As with any official filing, you want to make sure everything is done correctly so that you don’t risk being rejected on the basis of a simple error, descriptiveness, genericness, improper Specimens (proof of use), and the many other grounds on which the USPTO can challenge your application.
How we helped Terry
Terry Nguyen, Team Member, Techn
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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.
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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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