Name is an identity that a person or a business has. And, when they earn a great name, it becomes eternal. For businesses, it becomes essential to have distinct names, taglines, and product features like the shape of the package, its design, and even colors. These features help buyers identify your product and connect to it in online and offline advertisements. As the company spreads its wings, the counterfeiting elements in the market may start using your product names for their low-grade items. Such incidents not only lead to losses but results in disapproval among the buyers. Thus, having recognizable and legal names and symbols for the business is a must. It is an intellectual property of the company that no other trades can use. In the longer term, it is an asset, a brand value, that helps one expand to newer territories and industries.
A company can trademark a long array of thing that includes its name, products, services, content, symbols, and devices. However, most of the startups are bootstrapped and have loads to do on the work front. They may not get into the details of trademarking. But it is essential, as one gets the legal authority over their products and services, and also has the brand presence in the market. Check out below, the effective ways to quickly trademark your business entities.
Choosing between ITU and use-based trademark:
ITU stands for intent-to-use, and it indicates that you have not yet used the logo/symbol on the product or service. For registering an ITU trademark, the company needs to have a Statement of purpose and should be able to give dates for product launches or service commencements. Another advantage is that it quickens the filing process. It is costlier than the use-based one, and it is also a possibility that someone else might start using a similar trademark before you. When filing a use-based mark, you should do it before/while coming up with a product and begin getting sound traction in the market.
Perform a trademark knockout search:
It is not advisable to have a trademark proposal rejected. For startups, it implies the wastage of both time and money. One has to search and check the databases of authorizing institutes for identical or similar trademarks. Either the marks or the products may have a high level of similarity, and it would lead to the rejection of the proposal. Companies tend to hire trademark attorneys for the registration purpose. Knockout searching is a cost-effective method for startups. Settlements in case of confusion or a dispute while registering may take around three-six months. In this period, companies might lose early-stage marketing efforts.
Choose suitable forms for registration:
There are different trademark categories, such as word marks, design marks, shape marks, color, and sound marks. One should understand the necessity of each, and file for registration accordingly. For example, while trademarking a tagline, one should ponder on questions like how to trademark a phrase, what are its limitations, and how to utilize it effectively? Trademarking can make or break your business outreach. So, one should have a proper plan on how to use them for their products and services. One should be able to identify and show them to the legal authority if required.
Classify and Specialize:
At times, your trademark may get rejected due to mere descriptiveness. First of all, one should know the categories of trademark distinctiveness. Descriptive names apply to businesses whose products have high usage and awareness in society and have a secondary meaning. An example would be band-aids from Johnson And Johnson. We do not call it an adhesive bandage as the word band-aid is synonymous with this product. So, startups cannot go for descriptive trademarks for their new products or services. One needs to keep it catchy and relevant.
Utilize trademark monitoring tools:
After successfully registering the trademark, you must keep an eye on infringing elements. The monitoring is required for protecting the brand identity, and the earlier you detect concerning issues, the easier it is to stop them. So, you have to check for sources that attempt to use similar trademarks. One simple way is to navigate the search engine results for the word marks or design. In Google, you can set up alerts and receive emails when someone searches for your design or character marks. It is also possible to set the frequency of notifications. You should also check USPTO's official trademark gazette. They publish the list of soon-to-be registered trademarks monthly. You can check them and ensure that new ones are not similar to your existing trademarks. In case they are, then you can take up legal proceedings and notify your opposition to the concerned party.
Trademarking takes time, but it is a crucial process. It will be the communication tool and should capture the attention of the customers. At the same time, trademarks are among the intangible assets of the company and need to be evaluated periodically by an IP (intellectual property) specialist. With research and creativity, you can speed up the registration and protect from competitors too.