As an online business owner, you’re likely well aware of the importance of protecting your brand. After all, your brand is what sets you apart from the competition and helps you build a loyal customer base. One way to protect your brand is by registering a trademark. But what is a trademark and how do you go about registering one? Keep reading to find out
Nobody likes having their ideas stolen. You probably haven’t thought about trademarks a lot, unless you’re about to start a business. Let me tell you four things you need to know while you’re thinking about protecting your brand as part of a larger trademark portfolio.
The first thing you might ask is: “What exactly is a trademark?”
It is anything a consumer might associate with you. It could be your brand, products, goods, and services. It could be a word like “Febreze” or a short phrase like “Just do it”. It could be a color, like the color red for Netflix. It could go as far as the type of packaging like the Coke bottle and so much more. A trademark is anything and everything that someone associates with you and your brand.
You might ask next: “How do you go about protecting your trademark?”
First things first. You should register that trademark. A registered mark is the main way to deter copycats and counterfeiters from taking advantage of your goodwill. Registration allows you the owner to how to properly utilize and enhance your brand.
The next phase of protection for your trademark in the US is usually enforcement which can range anywhere from sending cease and desist letters to litigation.
When that doesn’t work, then it proceeds to litigation. Litigation can involve state claims to federal claims, especially when you have a registered mark. That can provide an extra layer of protection that establishes your ownership and the ability to enforce your mark. The only way to utilize the right is to know how to use it.
You must also understand the reason why exactly should you get a trademark registration.
Exercising your trademark right is one of the most important tools you have to own and protect your ideas. Ownership of a registered trademark allows you to exercise control over the quality of goods you portray to the public. It’s all about reputation protection. It opens the doors to expansion, conservation, and most of all, protecting what you own.
A registered trademark, as mentioned before, is a great way of deterring, counterfeiters and copycats. Having a registered trademark allows you to collect monetary damages. More specifically, the profits earned by bad faith actors by manipulating and utilizing your brand and the cost of legal action taken against them. Even more specifically, you can get to use the cool little “R” logo.
Finally, you might ask, how to go about registering that trademark.
The United States Patent Trademark Office, (USPTO) is a federal agency in charge of regulating the registration of trademarks. If you’re a US citizen, you can usually file a trademark application yourself. The USPTO provides a lot of resources for you to be able to do that. As for foreign applicants, you are required to have a US barter attorney on record while applying for a trademark.
Now, let me get back to applying for a trademark application by yourself. You can apply for a trademark application yourself. However, some of the most common mistakes I see are misspellings, wrong information of ownership, poor description of goods and services, and wrong classes that your application might get registered into. Some of these mistakes usually ended up costing extra fees, voided applications, and missed opportunities.
All this can happen while your competitor has already jumped on a name. a phrase, a logo that looks eerily similar to yours. This might not get your trademark registered. I see this all the time. The easiest way to avoid this is to contact an experienced trademark attorney who is experienced in filing trademark applications and can maximize your chances of being registered.
The cost of a trademark application is pretty simple. A properly filed trademark application is $250 per class. A class describes that industry or category your goods or services might fall into.
For example, a brewery that brews beer has a taproom selling merchandise that might be glassware, clothes, or hats, is not only going to register their mark in one class. They’ll probably want to register it in at least three to four classes. That application can cost up to $750 to $1000. When you’re spending that kind of money, you want to maximize their chances of being registered.
You might ask what the best time is to register your trademark.
I would suggest, if you are serious about protecting your name, your logo, and enhance your brand, do it as soon as you think of that name, logo, or that brand. You can file an application to the USPTO with a perfect description of the goods and services you are providing. The sooner you file the better since there could be another company that might be filing something similar to your name or logo, and it might really deter your ability to register that mark.
Registering a mark is like buying a new bright and shiny tool. Even more important is to know how to utilize that tool properly, for maximum effect and to avoid any misuse. After all, just because you have the newest, best tool doesn’t mean you know how to use it! The same goes for registering a mark. Just because you’ve registered your mark, doesn’t mean you’re done – far from it. You need to continue to use your mark properly in order to keep it strong and enforceable.
The benefits of registering a trademark are many- including exclusive use of the mark in your industry, national protection of the mark, and the ability to sue anyone who uses your mark without permission. While registering a trademark can seem like a daunting task, our team can help make the process easy and painless. If you’re interested in learning more about trademarks or need help registering yours, please don’t hesitate to schedule a free discovery call. Get the link here.
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Sahil Malhotra is an Intellectual Property Attorney, who founded Drishti (“vision”) law because of his vision in protecting dreams and ideas.
He provided individuals and small businesses with an opportunity to enhance their IP’s value by helping them register trademarks and successfully argue against office actions. In addition to his training and experience, he has been deeply involved in the multifaceted IP portfolio at UIC and continues to be associated with IP organizations and conferences.
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