When you’re setting up a new business, it’s easy to get mired down in all the paperwork involved, and forget about filing some important items. However, one thing that you do need to investigate closely and finalize is your business trademark.
Entrepreneurs need to learn how to register a trademark, as well as other dos and don’ts surrounding the protection of their precious intellectual property. If you’re keen to brush up on your knowledge, read on for the rundown on what you need to know about trademarks when setting up a new business.
What Exactly Is A Trademark?
A trademark is something that’s used to distinguish the goods or services of one business, from those of another. Trademarks can be granted for a variety of items, including logos, words, phrases, domain names, shapes, pictures, sounds, smells, and even special packaging.
It’s vital to trademark your organization’s creative designs so that they are not able to be appropriated by your competition or any other businesses. There’s no point spending time, energy and money on designing the perfect logo, catch phrase, or signature scent, for example, only to have it used by other people without any legal recourse being available.
Conduct Some Research.
When you’re starting out in business, one of the top priorities is usually to develop the organization’s name, logo, slogan or other identifying factors. However, you need to ensure that any new name you choose does not infringe upon an existing trademark — something that can only be known for certain when conducting your own trademark search. (You also want to make sure that you can achieve exclusive rights to use a name).
Spend some time looking into existing trademarks yourself or, to be absolutely confident of your rights, hire a lawyer who specializes in IP law to help you get everything in order.
The Benefits Of A Trademark.
Once you’ve determined the available rights of your preferred name, slogan or other item, it’s time to set up your trademark. The major benefit of doing this is the fact that it will stop other people or companies from using your all-important intellectual property. Anyone that completes a trademark search in the future for names, marks, or signs similar to yours will see that you have already established rights for your company.
Once you have a trademark in place, if anyone is found to be infringing your rights at any time (that is, using a name, logo or other type of “mark” that’s very similar to yours in connection with goods or services that your trademark covers) you have the right to take legal action against them. It’s important to be aware that setting up and registering a business or company name does not give you exclusive ownership rights over it — only a trademark can do that.
The other major benefit of trademarking is the fact that it can add professionalism and cachet to your brand. Consumers tend to favour businesses with a trademark, and see the signs as an indication of a business that will be around for a long time, and that knows what it’s doing.
Trademarks give significant marketing advantages to companies, as they showcase a business as legitimate, dependable, trustworthy, and well-established. This all leads to increased brand awareness and higher sales over time. An iconic trademark (like the Nike “swoosh,” for example) also adds dollar value to a business when it comes time to sell part or all of a company.
Having a trademark in place can also be a great way to generate additional income for a company through licensing the use of the mark to other people or businesses. This can be seen, for instance, in the many licensed Disney characters which grace items of clothing, board games, toys, gadgets, and other merchandise all around the world.
How To File A Trademark.
Individuals and businesses can file their trademark request with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an agency of the Department of Commerce. USPTO provides entrepreneurs with an online submission system, known as the Trademark Electronic Application System, or TEAS. Apart from being the quickest and easiest method of filing the paperwork, the TEAS system is also less expensive than submitting information in a physical format.
When putting in a trademark application to USPTO, business owners must include a variety of information, such as the name of the applicant/name of the owner, address details, a filing fee, a list of the goods and services associated with the mark, and a clear drawing or other representation of the logo, name or other identifying factor.
Using A Trademark.
Once you have received confirmation that your trademark request has been approved and registered, it is a good idea to place the appropriate symbol next to your trademark in all company documentation, both online and offline. This helps to build credibility for your brand, as well as alert other people to your legal rights to use of the mark.