Protecting your business means protecting your brand. A brand encompasses a business's name, design, logos, persona, and other distinguishing, identifying features.
Brand protection can be implemented with a few personal strategies created alongside a team of attorneys that have experience with copyright litigation, trade secret security, and trademark disputes.
Why File A Trademark?
One of the first endeavors any business undertakes is "thinking trademark." A strong brand and therefore a strong trademark can help separate your business from competitors.
Thinking about your trademark from the start of your business can work as a preventative measure in case your filing is too similar to another existing company's. Finding out earlier in the process that a trademark is unavailable can save your business from a potential loss in name recognition, and money spent on new signs, labels, marketing campaigns, and other expenses needed to rebrand. More than all that, however, is the legal problems that arise when names are too close to previously established brands.
Louis Vuitton vs. Louis Vuiton Dak is one particularly notable trademark case. Louis Vuiton Dak is a South Korean restaurant that derived its name and packaging from the popular luxury fashion house. As an established brand, Louis Vuitton sued the smaller restaurant for profiting off their image and won the case. The restaurant proceeded to change its name to Louisvui Tondak and was sequentially ordered to pay a $14.5 million dollar fine for not complying.
The Trademark Process
Avoiding a situation like this is as simple as filing a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (or the country's trademark office native to the company). The following steps will serve as a guide:
1. Find out of a trademark is right for you. Navigating the differences between trademarks, copyrights, domain names, and patents will likely be the most confusing step of the process, as businesses decide what they need. Domain names are reserved for websites, and therefore, not registered through the USPTO. Likewise, patents are for innovative inventions that utilize new technology. Deciding between pursuing trademark vs. copyright brand protection is the final hurdle to climb. Where copyrights are filed with the United States Copyright Office and are intellectual property that the owner exclusively controls and distributes, trademarks are exclusively for businesses and protect brand names or logos that are used for goods and services.
2. Get ready to apply. After certifying that your company needs a trademark, it's advisable to bring in attorneys specializing in trademark laws. Companies filing for a trademark will have to select the appropriate mark, but not all will receive legal protection. You and your team of lawyers have to consider whether your mark is able to be registered and how difficult it will be to protect your mark based on its strength.
3. Prepare and submit your application. Companies looking to file a trademark should set up an account with the USPTO and begin their application on the Trademark Electronic Application System. The status of an application should be checked every 6 months to prevent filing deadlines from being missed.
4. Work with the assigned USPTO examining attorney. The trademark office will decide if your trademark fulfills the minimum requirements. If it passes the initial inspection, your company or legal team will be contacted by USPTO attorneys, who may reach out in the case of any legal problems with the trademark, trademark symbol, or application itself. Applicants will have six months to resolve these matters before the application is considered abandoned. If the issues are small, the office may reach out by phone, but letters are the predominant means of communication.
5. Receive approval/denial of your application. Applications will then receive an official approval or denial of their trademark. Officially approved applications will be filed in the Official Gazette for the USPTO and any parties will have 30 days to find any deficiencies.
6. Maintain your registration. Companies have approximately two months after approval to keep their registration live. Missing this will cancel or result in the expiration of your trademark.
Protecting your company's brand starts by thinking of your trademark from the beginning. To ensure you're as protected as possible on this front, get in touch with our team of expert attorneys today.