Trademark legal disputes happen more often than you think they do. Every other day, there’s a news story about a legal dispute about the misuse of a trademark or the illegal use of a trademark. What this shows is how much value a logo, brand name or any other signifier of your company has and how it’s important to protect these trademarks.
Oftentimes, new or young startups look at trademarking as an afterthought, something that they will get done when they have the time or if their company grows and becomes successful. This, in my opinion, is a huge mistake. I believe that the smart strategy to take is to protect yourself beforehand, instead of dealing with trademark disputes after the fact.
Trademarking your company name, once you are up and running, both on the state and federal level, gives you numerous protections. In order to trademark a name at all, you must meet the requirements of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, mainly that the name is not generic, is inherently distinctive, and that no one else owns the trademark. Therefore, by registering your trademark, you protect yourself from any claims of infringement from other organizations and businesses.
If another organization or company were to use your name or logo, you are protected in the sense that you have a paper trail showing not only that you own the mark, but that you use it, you are known by that mark and that the USPTO granted you rights over that mark. Also, if any new businesses want to use a name or logo, all they have to do is search for it in the USPTO database to see if anyone has registered it. Registration ensures that other businesses are on notice that you have rights over your name or logo.
Oftentimes, companies who wish to make a quick buck try to trade on the reputation of an established brand and use the name or logo of another brand or something similar to it. This can lead to trademark dilution, which means that the misuse of the logo or name is diluting the brand power for the original brand and ultimately hurting its business value and ability to compete effectively in the marketplace. Registering your trademark can protect you from trademark dilution and provides a mechanism to prove your rights over the name and logo if a company tries to trade on your reputation and goodwill.
Finally, trademarking your company name, gives you protection when it comes to cybersquatting. Cybersquatting is when a third party registers, traffics, or uses a domain name that uses your trademark, with the intent to confuse your customers or to profit from the use of the domain name.
This is a major issue in the marketplace right now because it is so easy to register a domain name, and oftentimes, squatters do it in order to get the trademark owner to pay the squatter for rights to the domain name. When facing cybersquatters, trademark owners have federal rights under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. But, by registering the trademark with the USPTO, the owner can easily show that he or she has a right to the domain name and is therefore protected against cybersquatters.
Trademarking your company’s name and logo should be one of the first things you do when you start setting up your business. As with most legal issues, it’s better and more cost-efficient to protect yourself and handle these registration and contract issues before they become litigation issues.
Distinct Law Group understands the importance of trademarking your company’s name and logo and as such offers these services to their clients. We take you through the process of trademark search and clearance and trademark registration, to ensure that your company’s valuable brand assets and brand identity are protected. Also, should you find that an outsider is infringing on your trademark rights, Distinct Law Group will help you to vigorously defend against these infringers.
To see how Distinct Law Group can serve your trademark needs, contact our attorneys today and let us help you protect your brand.