When you hear the word brand, what do you think of? America is full of iconic images and catchy phrases that immediately come to mind. Those images and phrases are now synonymous in our minds with the companies that they represent. That is the power of the trademark! A trademark is a commonly misunderstood legal protection for brands. A properly-executed trademark saves entrepreneurs and business owners time and money on the path of growing business. Here are four things you need to know as you apply for a trademark.
1. Make Sure it is Not Already in Use
Always run a trademark search before you attempt to trademark your brand. Do not allow your heart to get set on a certain phrase or name without first checking to see if it is even available. “Blindly” submitting a trademark leads to the unnecessary expense of your time and finances if it is already registered.
2. Use it or Lose it
In the United States, trademark rights are only established by their use. You establish your rights to your trademark as you put them to use through normal business transactions. Similarly, if you want to keep trademark rights, you must make sure that the trademark stays in use.
3. Keep Expansion in Mind
You should consider geographic location when applying for a trademark. In the U.S., a trademarked name/brand in California may not carry over to New York because of their differing locations. A trademarked name/brand must be recognizable by the people for it to have any effect; the people in New York wouldn't necessarily recognize a trademarked name/phrase from California. Therefore, it is important to keep expansion in mind when applying for a trademark. If you are the owner of a small business with no intention to expand in the future and there is someone on the other side of the states with a similar trademark to yours, you probably don't have a problem. However, if you are wanting to expand across the nation, or even world-wide, then you must be very thorough in the application for your trademark.
4. Always Get an Attorney involved
Many business owners believe that cheap online trademarking services are the way to go - they are fast, efficient, and cost-effective. Many times they simply file for the trademark themselves. However, they do not realize that this may lead to some serious problems for them down the road. Though these individuals may think they are saving money by using these services, they don't realize that there are important aspects of their trademark that are being overlooked and ignored. This effectively lands them in far deeper legal trouble and causes a much larger financial burden than if they had simply consulted an attorney on the issue. Attorneys know that not all trademarks are the same, and not all trademarks are created equal. An attorney can help make sure nothing is overlooked in the process and give you the best legal security you need.