Negosentro | Trademarks 101: All You Need to Know | Not many people are fully aware of the term “intellectual property”. As we need to pay for some kind of insurance each month such as a car or house insurance, there is one part of “intangible property” that should also be protected and paid. Trademarks are that type of intellectual property that a person or a business has to pay in order to protect its name, brand, or preserve its identity. Intangible items related to intellectual property are some things that we cannot see with our eyes or feel with our hands, but just like trademarks, they are all around us. We eat at McDonald’s, wear Air Jordan shoes while we drive a Ford car. All these brands are protected by their legal owners, and for them to remain the symbol of their reputation, their names or trademarks need to be established.
What is a trademark?
Briefly noted, a trademark is a word, phrase, logo, sound, smell, symbol, or design that clearly identifies and characters your business, goods, and services. By using a specific name, logo, or slogan in your business, with a trademark you help your business stand out in the market from all the rest, avoid any confusion with similar brands and help the wider population and other businesses to identify your name.
Trademark – a must-protected asset
When you come to a conclusion that you want to protect your intellectual property, you would need to find experts who would help you go through the documentation and process. With a trusted confidant by your side, you can always have somebody to assist you with the legal matter when things go south. As a trademark represents your company’s and business’s name to the fullest, you should give it some level of trademark protection through common law trademarks to ensure you have your one-of-a-kind goods protected from copycats. There are companies that invest millions, if not billions, of dollars to register and protect their intellectual property (like the “check” symbol for Nike) because in that way they can rest assured that they have gained competitive advantages in the marketplace. To cut the long story short, trademarks are utterly effective and highly valuable business assets that can be identified and registered with the government to deter copycats. For that matter, more and more individuals seek help from professional IP lawyers that can help protect and maximize the value of your business’s innovative product or service. If you were to work with IP lawyers, you would finish the whole process of obtaining a trademark utterly safely and eligibly.
Why does my business need a trademark?
If you want your business to be clearly identified and your brand or your product adequately separated from all others, you need a trademark. In plain words, even a name can be considered a trademark. Think names like Coca-Cola, Google, Tesla, and so on, which are all examples of trademarked names. If you want to have a unique symbol, you can also trademark it as well such as the recognizable swoosh sign in Nike. All in all, any business or company that wants their brand or product separated and distinguished from others should opt for a trademark. Once you get protected with a trademark, anything that is official “yours” – slogans, logos, brand names, colors, smells, sounds, and even mascots cannot be used by others as it will be considered as a trademark infringement and they could be sent to court immediately.
How to get and register a trademark?
Up to a few years back, obtaining a trademark was a lengthy paper-filled deed, luckily nowadays most things can be done online. First, before you can register your trademark you need to do thorough research on whether you can trademark your business name, logo, or slogan and see whether someone else has taken the name you wish to have. All trademark applicants need to register through a federal agency regulated by the United States Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO). After submitting papers and paying the initial fee which is around $300, you would need to wait around 18 months for their official decision. Although the entire process could last up to two years, if there’s no opposition, or if the opposition is resolved in your favor, it would all be worth the wait, and your name will be registered.
What can’t be trademarked?
In order to get your official federal trademark protection, your name must be unique, distinctive, and not likely to be confused or misplaced with some other existing trademark. When you are looking into creating a trademark, you have to focus on what your business delivers, what items and good you are offering, and how does your offering stand out from all the rest. The first thing you must avoid is direct religious quotas and passages, already used marks, and generic descriptions of your product or service. So, the more distinctive your proposed mark is, the better chances are that the application will be approved. Hence, you need to thoroughly search the USPTO website for any trademarks in use in order to avoid using a similar one.
The benefits of a trademark
There are numerous advantages to registering your trademark. Besides being able to protect your intellectual property and all other “intangible” assets, a trademark helps you launch and grow your business safe and fast. You would have an exclusive right to your brand name, and with that power, you would be able to enhance your business and earn lucrative profits. What’s more, registering a trademark stops various copycats and enables you to control your mark and maximally distinguish your brand name from other competitors in your industry. Last but not least, by having a trademark you can advertise your product with more self-esteem and stop any other business from infringing your trademark.
All things considered, the key is to find or come up with a totally unique mark. Don’t hesitate to search any of the free trademark search programs to check whether your ideas already exist. Afterward, you can file for your trademark registration, find an excellent IP lawyer who would guide you through the entire process, and wait for the decision. At the end, when the trademark follows your brand, the whole tiresome process you have gone through would be worth the wait and money.
Mike is an Australian business consulting specialist. He’s working with companies that outsource their IT maintenance. He often writes about technology, business and marketing and is a regular contributor on several websites.