If you have put in the hard work building and developing your brand then it is up to you to protect it. Imagine how you would feel if consumers start to recognize your product or service only for someone else to start claiming your company name or logo is theirs. Trust me I have seen it and it is not pleasant and very costly to repair the damages.
In order to protect the equity in your business and avoid consumer confusion, it is vital you register a trademark so your competitors cannot profit from your hard work and consumers do not confuse your business for someone else’s. First we are going to help you understand the value of a registered trademark along with the simples steps you can take to protect your investment.
What is a Trademark?
Before taking any steps to register a trademark it is important to have an understanding of the benefits of trademark registration. In essence it will confirm you as the legal owner of a name, brand or logo and will protect you from your competitors in your industry using that name (or similar names) to provide goods and services.
Unfortunately some business owners believe that simply registering a domain, company name or L.L.C. will offer them all the protection they need. The facts are that to legally protect your business you will need to register your logo, business name, product name, clear description of your brand and anything that is associated with your brand as a trademark. Imagine successfully building a strong brand only for someone else to legally register the same or similar name and enjoy the benefits of all your efforts. It happens. Do not let it happen to you.
The Basics of Registering Your Trademark
In the United States, trademark applications are filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This is the department responsible for issuing all trademarks and as such they will only be recognized in law when issued and approved through the USPTO. Your first step before you submit any kind of application, you need to do your research and make sure no one else is currently using the trademark you want to register. This can be done at the USPTO website and is a necessary first step.
Once the search reveals that your idea has not been registered, you can begin the application process. This again can be done online at the USPTO website. You are provided with step by step instructions and it is just a matter of following them until the application is complete. However completing and filing your application does not mean your trademark is registered.
It will go into a review process and needs to be approved by a U.S. government official. If there are any issues that need clarification you will be asked to respond within six months or your application will be considered abandoned. This is why it is vitally important you monitor your application and make sure you pay regular visits to the USPTO website.
Final Protection for You and Your Brand
It can take upwards of six to twelve months for your trademark application to be approved. Once approval has been granted then you will receive an official Trademark Registration Certificate from the USPTO. At that time you and your business will have the full protection of the law. This means that all the effort and money it takes to build a brand cannot be taken away by some unscrupulous competitor and you can enjoy complete peace of mind.
Although the steps described above are relatively simple many business owners will use the services of a Trademark Attorney when registering their trademark. This is something you may wish to consider as some aspects of the process can be a little complex and, using an attorney can mean there are no errors in your application and your business can enjoy full trademark protection with peace of mind knowing it was completed correctly.
A Legally Registered Trademark Adds Value To Your Business
If you ever decide to sell your business having a legally registered Trademark increases the value of your company. If you do not legally register your brand you will create a liability for interested buyers and they may not accept your offer.
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