Are You Missing Out On A Key Tool For Your Business? This Trademark Counseling Attorney Explains How To Set Your Brand Up For Success
In this article, we will discuss:
- How a trademark counseling attorney can help you avoid the common pitfalls associated with trademark registration and licensing.
- Why the name of your business may be an essential part of your brand identity – and how you can protect it.
- What the purpose of trademark clearance is, and why it’s best left up to a skilled trademarking expert.
What Is Trademark Counseling?
Trademark counseling is an essential service that many business owners aren’t utilizing to their advantage. Because branding is such a key aspect of the long-term success of any venture, it’s crucial to have a solid legal foundation of intellectual property protections in place.
Unfortunately, countless entrepreneurs build the identity of their business around a brand that cannot be legally protected. This leaves them at risk of massive, course-altering litigation that challenges the fair use of their brands, slogans, images, and more.
If you have built (or are currently building) a business of any kind, trademark counseling can provide you with critical insight into the security of your brand – and therefore, the very name and image that clients and consumers associate with your enterprise.
At Wolfe Legal Services, P.L.C., we focus on providing a comprehensive suite of services geared toward creating custom-tailored trademark registration plans for your business. Some of the many services we offer include, but are not limited to:
- Clearance Searches
- USPTO Application Filing
- Application Monitoring
- Prompt Response to USPTO Office Actions
- Renewing Expired or Expiring Trademarks
- Drafting & Negotiating Trademark License Agreements
- And more…
An attorney can perform clearance searches and file your application for US registration at the USPTO. Then, that attorney can monitor the application and respond to office actions from the USPTO. Often, I represent clients in expired or expiring marks to help them renew their trademarks. I also offer services in drafting and negotiating trademark license agreements.
What Is A Trademark?
A trademark is a symbol that represents the source of the goods or services of a commercial entity. Technically speaking, if the symbol represents services, it is called a “service mark,” as trademarks are specifically for goods. However, many people use these terms interchangeably in conversation.
Trademark and service mark symbols are recognizable signs, designs, or expressions that may include a word, picture, sound, color, or other communicable device used by consumers to instantly identify your brand.
With this in mind, it’s clear how important a secure trademark is – without it, you risk losing the brand identity that can immediately distinguish your business from competitors.
What Is Trademark Registration, And Why Do I Need To Register My Trademark?
Trademark registration makes it easier to enforce your rights to the identification that you use to make your goods and services, and you as the source of them, uniquely recognizable.
Many people don’t know that you have rights to any trademark that you use in commerce, whether or not that trademark is registered. But without registration, your trademark or service mark is left vulnerable to claims of infringement.
For example, consider that your trademark is unregistered, and you face a claim that accuses your brand identity of confusing consumers’ ability to distinguish between the goods or services of your business and another enterprise.
These claims bring into question: Who owns the mark? Is the mark valid? When was the mark first used? And more… Alternatively, trademark registration clearly demonstrates the date of first use and presumes the trademark to be valid and owned by the registrant.
Without these protections already in place, it can be difficult to dispute a claim that challenges the use of your trademark. And losing a legal battle regarding the use of a trademark can force you to cease using it in the course of your business – effectively causing you to start from scratch and build a new brand identity altogether.
Where Should My Trademark Be Registered? Do I Need To Register My Trademark Internationally As Well?
As a business owner, you should register your mark wherever it is being used in commerce.
Many clients will find sufficient protection by registering their marks in the U.S. This is done by filing an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Washington, D.C. – which is the arm of the Department of Commerce that deals with commercial intellectual property.
If your mark is used internationally, you may need to apply for registration with another country’s trademark office. In most cases, application and registration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) provides the best avenue for international protection.
It’s important to keep in mind that international trademark registration can be costly. So, many clients are well-served by consulting with their trademark attorney to determine the best way in which to economically register their marks.
What Happens If I Do Not Register My Trademark?
The greatest danger to unregistered trademarks is the possibility of being found invalid in litigation.
If you choose not to register your mark and another party comes along using the same mark – or one that could be easily confused as the same mark – your rights to its use will be vulnerable.
What’s more, litigation is costly and time-consuming. By having a trademark registered, the validity and ownership of your mark is presumed. This way, you won’t have to spend excess time and money proving that you own the right to use a mark in the course of your business.
How Do I Find Out If My Trademark Is Already In Use?
There are many ways to see if your trademark is already being used – the most common of them being to search the USPTO database. However, while an initial search can give you an instant result, you may be missing out on the key information you need to know whether you have real trademark clearance.
Some people may think, “Can’t I just search the internet for trademark clearance?” But the truth is, there are many factors to consider other than the exact name or the exact image of a business.
Trademark clearance is a much more complicated process than it may seem on its face. With over a dozen different factors to consider and the need for an in-depth grasp of trademark law to sufficiently determine whether or not the mark is at-risk of litigation, it’s best to contact an attorney for any of your clearance-related questions and concerns.
Do I Need To Trademark My Business Name?
Your business’ name is an essential part of your brand identity – but whether or not you should trademark it will depend on how it’s used.
If your business name is just the title of your LLC, you may not need to file a trademark application to protect it. However, if your business name is how you represent the brand of your goods or services in the market, then you’re technically using it as a trademark and may want to consider filing an application.
There are reasons that even a brand-identifying business name may not be eligible for trademark registration, including factors such as:
- The name is too similar to another trademarked name, and registration could infringe on the existing trademark,
- The name is ineligible for trademark registration due to statutory bars that disallow the registration of marks that include proper names and geographical terms,
- And more…
If you’re curious about whether or not you need to protect your business’ name through trademark registration, you should reach out to a qualified attorney for a consultation.
Do I Need To Trademark My Logo?
Logos almost always require trademark registration for legal security. At Wolfe Legal Services, P.L.C., we offer discounts for those searching for an attorney who can clear and register a business name with an associated name-based logo.
Whatever your trademark needs are, it’s crucial to have the insight of an expert. By taking proactive steps today, you can protect your business from the uncertainties of tomorrow.
For more information on Services Offered Under Trademark Counseling, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (615) 784-9372 today.
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