All business operators are concerned with building their business, especially new startups, but many do not realize when they should consider trademarking their business brand. No one wants to do the necessary work in getting established just to have a competitor come along and copy an idea or advertising emblem, or even find out they themselves are infringing on another business with an advertising device. Your brand is your business in many ways, especially in the current digital economy, and having all rights associated with advertising your operation legally are vital to business growth. This does not become apparent to many business owners until after the fact, and being ahead of the curve is important from the very beginning.
Establishing Your Mark Immediately
Many businesses operate using informal branding in the beginning, and this can still be effective when it can be timestamped in some manner. When anyone contests using a particular advertising symbol, there can still be a claim to fair and legal use when it can be established the brand was being applied first. However, this can be complicated and often is an argument supported by minimal documented evidence. It is always best to apply for a trademark as soon as possible when business growth and viability will be closely associated with the symbol. The trademark should actually be submitted for registration before operations begin so it can at least be claimed the trademark is pending authorization.
Uniqueness is Vital
One aspect of branding that all business operators should understand is that a particularly common word often cannot be trademarked. Trademarks are not like copyrights. They are issued for designated time periods and must be renewed at specific intervals for proper ongoing use as an advertising tool. What can be registered is the distinguishing “mark” as opposed to a particular word. An actual name of a person can be trademarked in most instances, as a name is technically not a word. A name is assigned to a specific person or business at some point in time, but it is important to ensure that the same name has not previously been registered. The trademark “design” is what is actually registered, and your advertising uniqueness is crucial when long-term brand growth is the objective.
Always Consult with an Intellectual Property Attorney
Approval of a trademark registration can be a long and frustrating experience when the emblem or idea is not thoroughly evaluated before filing. This is especially true when a brand will become a business sign or avatar used in a digital format. Many businesses will actually have multiple brands associated with their product lines as businesses grow. An intellectual property attorney will understand what unique markings will be more readily acceptable to the U.S. Patent Office, and there could also be times in the future following registration when legal representation will be required in any infringement situation.
Being given a trademark registration is usually just the beginning for many businesses, and the legal authority to use the brand design will need protection as well in many instances. And, the intellectual property attorney you choose can make a difference when infringement protection is necessary. Make sure you retain an IP professional with an established track record of results for their clients.