Starting a brand or small business involves many exciting opportunities and obstacles no matter what the scale of your business or project is. With all of the new ideas that emerge in this process, protecting the intellectual property that is involved with a brand can often get overlooked.
Protecting your brand with trademarks is an important and helpful measure to take at the beginning of your branding process. This is because it is easier to protect a brand (or any of your original ideas) if you have a trademark, copyright, or patent before someone attempts to copy or steal it.
In some instances, it may even be impossible to protect your brand after someone steals your ideas if you did not protect your intellectual property beforehand. What’s more is that the threat of intellectual property theft persists from the moment your brand is created, and for many small business owners and entrepreneurs, increases with the success of said brand. This is because as your content increases with popularity, others could begin to want to profit off of it too.
Determining when and how to protect your intellectual property and maintaining this protection can be essential for you and your venture to grow in the future. A proactive stance taken in regard to the protection of your intellectual property can also save you time and money in the long run, whether you intend on growing your business or not.
What Does a Trademark Protect?
When protecting your brand, there are several different ways to protect your intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Trademarks and service marks can protect brand names and logos used on goods and services.
A trademark is a mark in the form of a word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies and distinguishes the source of certain goods from the goods of others. Service marks are the same as trademarks except that a service mark identifies and distinguishes the source of a service instead of goods. Read more about trademarks in our article on recognized trademarks.
The Benefits of Protecting your Brand with Trademarks
If you think you need or may need to protect your brand, business names, and logos, then trade and service mark registration is the most effective way to do so. Alongside the prevention of intellectual property theft, registering trade and service marks offers additional advantages.
These include but are not limited to: the notice to the public of your claim, a legal presumption of ownership nationwide, and the exclusive right to use your trade or service marked content exclusively on your goods or services. It is important to note that you are not required to register trade or service marks, though registration is necessary if you wish to access these benefits. Additionally, registering a trade and service mark can prevent the theft of your brand, business names, and/or logos while making it easier to persecute infringement.
Trademarks can also be appealing because of their longevity. A trademark or service mark can potentially last indefinitely in the form of an unlimited chain of ten year periods. The convenience of this timeline lies in that requirements for post registration maintenance and renewal are timely filed and paid every ten years. As businesses can also last for indefinite periods, trade and service marks provide the legal backing that is often necessary for however long it is needed.
Protecting your Brand – Trade and Service Mark Registration
Registering a trade or service mark is a measure taken by many small business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals because of the benefits it offers and the ease of doing so. You can actually register your own trade or service mark. Note that though it is possible to do without legal assistance, many choose to seek the help of an attorney regardless as the registration process is a legal proceeding that requires action in compliance with within certain deadlines.
Trade or service mark registration can be relatively straightforward. At Carson Patents, we recognized a four step process for seeking a trademark or service mark for your logo, brand, slogan, and/or business name. Read more about business name branding.
Carson Patents 4 Steps to Protecting your Brand
You can follow our 4 Steps to Trademark regardless of whether or not you wish to complete the process on your own or seek professional advice.
STEP 1: BUSINESS NAME USE SEARCH
The first step towards protecting your brand with trademarks is to search for anyone that might be currently using the trade or service mark you are seeking to register. To conduct this search, you would use the words and the images of your name/slogan/logo/audio clip for the search to make sure that it is not already registered and/or in use.
This step, or the business use search, is done at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) through their Trademark Electronic Search System, TESS. There is also an international database through the World Intellectual Property Office’s (WIPO) Global Brand Database (GBD) available for research if your business includes foreign countries done at the World Intellectual Property Office’s (WIPO) Global Brand Database (GBD). This database is how to protect trademark internationally.
STEP 2: PREPARING THE REGISTRATION APPLICATION
Once you have completed the trademark phrase search and found that your business name, logo, slogan, or audio clip is not already in use, you can move on to step 2: preparing the registration application. Note that if it is already in use, you can consider changing it or contacting an attorney to determine if there may still be potential to register the mark.
Preparing before you file saves time and potential office actions from the USPTO that would require a response to fix the application. For this step, be sure you have all the contact information for the owner (business or person) of the mark and the classes (business uses) that you want to register in. If you do not yet know what class(es), research the appropriate class using the USPTO’s ID Manual.
STEP 3: SUBMIT TRADEMARK REGISTRATION APPLICATION
The third step in how to get a trademark is to submit the registration application. After the business name, logo, slogan, or audio clip passes the USPTO trademark search and the application is prepared, the application can be submitted. To protect the mark in the United States, applications are submitted online using the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System or TEAS.
STEP 4: RESPONDING TO USPTO EXAMINER COMMUNICATIONS
The fourth and final step to getting a trademark is to respond to any communications from the USPTO. If everything is submitted properly, you will get a communication from the USPTO that they will or have registered your mark. You should also continue to respond to the maintenance and payment notices.
Carson Patents will work closely with you through the following four steps to pursue a trademark for your logo, brand, or business name. Contact us about any of these steps, or to learn more about the four steps to trademarking for your logo, brand, slogan or business name.
Learn More About Protecting your Brand with Trademarks
This article, protecting your brand with trademarks, outlined the purpose, benefits, and registration process of trade and service marks. There is more information on protecting your brand with trademarks available on our website as well as online. Feel free to schedule a free consultation to talk about your trade or service mark ideas.