If you own a business, protecting your company's trademarks means protecting its identity in the market. In other words, failing to take adequate action to safeguard assets that distinguish your company could result in losing a competitive edge.
Trademarks are pieces of intellectual property that help consumers connect a product or service with its source. They differ from patents and copyrights because they give the owner the exclusive right to use certain images and/or words in commerce. In addition, trademarks prevent anyone other than the trademark owner from using a similar mark that would confuse a consumer about the source of the product or service.
Think about the following companies:
- Coca Cola
In your mind, you probably pictured logos, colors, slogans, product packaging, or a specific font. These visual connections to the company's name when read in plain text speaks volumes about why trademarks are so important: They can command a prominent presence in the market, on shelves, and in consumers' minds by distinguishing your company from your competitors.
Originality Can Be Your Strongest Asset
Now that you understand why your company's trademarks should be protected, you're probably wondering how. The first step any business owner should take to protecting their trademarks is to come up with something truly original. That means taking the time and effort to develop unique assets that aren't heavily influenced by existing trademarks.
You can come up with these on your own, or consult with a marketing agency that might have a better notion of what can make the biggest impact without sacrificing originality. Either way, once you have something that represents your company, you should do a trademark search to ensure that mark is available. It is important to conduct a trademark search at this point because it can prevent you from creating a brand that infringes on an already established brand. It can also prevent you from spending money on marketing materials that cannot be used.
Register Your Trademarks for Added Protection
While trademark registration is not legally required, companies should be proactive in registering their trademarks.
Registering trademarks with the federal government offers business owners with some key advantages such as:
- Presuming your ownership over the trademarks
- Reducing the burden of proof you need to successfully claim trademark infringement
- Diminishing the likelihood that you'll be challenged for infringement of another registered trademark (because a search for similar marks is conducted as part of the registration process)
- Granting you exclusive rights to operate with your trademarks
- Simplifying the process to register your trademarks in foreign markets
- Allowing you to use the “®” symbol to signal your ownership
Have a Lawyer Help You with Trademark Registration & Protection
A business lawyer like ours at The Browne Firm can help you register your trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark Office. This process can be delicate and complicated to manage. Because of this, busy business owners are generally not advised to split their attention between their company and handling trademark registration on their own.
A business law attorney can help you with the overall application process, trademark clearance searches, and responses to the US Patent and Trademark Office. After helping you successfully register your trademarks, your attorney can help you manage and monitor your trademarks, which includes renewing them when the time comes.
The Browne Firm can help business owners register their trademarks and protect other intellectual property. Defending your business' visibility and uniqueness is important to attorney Danielle Browne, who focuses her practice on helping entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve meaningful results.