5 Simple Ways To Protect Your Trademark

The use of trademarks protects your business from copycats, and they establish trust among your customers. When your customer sees your trademark alongside your brand name, they can easily distinguish original products from the many counterfeits in the market.

Regardless of the business model you run, you need a trademark for it. It is only through a registered and secured trademark that you can prevent others from selling the same product or service under your name or sign. You can follow legal processes when any business tries to imitate you and use your trademarked name, sign, colors, or logo to market themselves. But you first need that mark protected before you can do anything.

The best thing you can do is protect your name or mark as soon as possible. When your business starts to take root, you should be recognizable through the mark you use for your business identification.

Follow these five simple steps to protect your trademark from infringement.

1. Conduct Early Research

It is essential to create a strong trademark that will protect your brand. The mark should be original, unique, and unused before by other businesses in the same domain as you. Research is essential in coming up with a viable mark. The name, mark, or identity marker you use must not be in use by anyone else – or it should not bring any confusion with another registered mark.

How will you know that your mark meets the minimum for registration? The USPTO’s TESS allows you to search their database for all registered names, signs, and marks – both live and dead. You will need to check if the name you intend to trademark is already taken or still available.

For obvious reasons, you will find some similar names trademarked. However, the search should not end there – whether or not the name is owned. You should know if the registered name trades in the same business line as your brand. You can register a name that exists only if your business is different from the one the name is registered for. For example, a word or mark registered for a shoe brand is available to register for a bicycle company.

2. Choose a Strong Mark or Name

Most people confuse trademarks as brand names. They are two different things entirely. You can, however, use your brand name, slogan, and logo for trademarks. However, there comes a time your brand name cannot make an ideal trademark. For instance, when you name your shop after your name and the products you deal in.

A strong trademark is essential for protection by federal law. Generic names like “Knives” or “John’s Bookshop” cannot be trademarked. Even if you wanted to, your registration will be turned down immediately. Descriptive and Suggestive names can receive registration, but their protection is low. You can get tough competition with little protection.

For better brand protection, you should choose arbitrary or fanciful trademarks. Arbitrary marks are terms that refer to things but unrelated to your products. Such names like Impala for a shoe brand and Canyon for a bike brand are arbitrary. Fanciful names are words that have no real meaning like Google and Verizon. They are the strongest trademarks that guarantee maximum protection for your business.

3. Stay Compliant During the Registration Process

After choosing your desired trademark, you need to file a registration form. For the citizens of the USA, you can personally do the application at the USPTO. Foreigners need a certified trademark attorney to help them file registration of the desired trademark or name.

The registration may take some time to process. During the period, the office will need to review your submissions to see if your mark is available and if your application follows all the requirements. When an application does not meet all the guidelines, the USPTO will send you a notification. This letter, also known as a trademark office action, requires an immediate response to correct any part of the application. Delaying the response means delaying your registration, or your application getting trashed.

4. Monitor Your Trademark Use

Before you register a trademark, you are allowed to use the ™ symbol with it. However, that does not stop anybody else from using similar or exact names and marks to trademark their businesses or products. You should have an official federal registration, which allows you to use the ®️ symbol (registered). This will prevent people from copying your trademark.

If you fail to use the appropriate mark after registration, someone else can continue selling with your trademark with no offense. You should also be vigilant about the registration submissions made to the USPTO to see if there is any application of a mark that can confuse yours. You can then inform the offices to respond appropriately to the mark or sign so that people do not use your mark or something similar for the same products as yours.

5. Maintain Your Trademark

After registering your mark, you must ensure that you continue using it according to the business model in which you registered it. Depending on your country of registration, you will need to renew the trademark ownership after some time. For US residents, the renewal period is 10 years.

However, between the 5th and 6th year, you should submit maintenance documents to prove that your business still exists and that the mark is duly in use. You should do the same between the 9th and 10th year. Henceforth, you should submit the documents after 10 years. Failure to follow all the maintenance rules will lead to your trademark cancelation and make it available for registration by other people.

In Summary

Trademarks are business identities and properties at the same time. While the mark helps your customers to identify your goods in the market, you must follow all the guidelines to ensure that you protect it and maintain its use solely for your products. Losing a trademark can mean losing customers and business.

Kimberly Clark

Kimberly Clark

Kimberly Clark is a content marketing specialist in IT & SEO, who helps clients increase their revenues by improving their organic traffic and building powerful campaign through Google Adwords. She can be reached via email at kimberly@linkingaces.biz.
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