Almost every small business dreams of one day becoming a household name, but few take the necessary steps to protect their brand. If you're not careful, another company could swoop in and steal your hard-earned reputation. The good news is that business trademark law can help keep your business name, logo, and other branding elements legally protected.
In this live stream, I interviewed Joey Vitale, a business growth coach and attorney for thriving small businesses. He’s also a Glam Alum and our trademark lawyer!
Watch the full live stream to learn more fascinating stories about trademarks and why it’s important to protect your brand.
Or read on to get the most important nuggets of wisdom!
What is a Business Trademark?
A trademark is a source identifier. When you see something and it makes you think of a particular brand, that's a trademark. For example, Disney owns the trademark for the phrase “Hakuna Matata.” When you think of that phrase, you think about the song from Lion King. That thought process is what makes a trademark because it makes you think of a brand in particular.
A trademark can come in many forms, including:
- Business Name
- Product Line
Two Layers of Trademarks: House vs. Fence
There are actually two layers of trademark rights. The first layer of trademark protection is automatic and doesn't require any paperwork. So just by being in business and using your business name and selling stuff, you automatically have trademark rights. That's called an automatic trademark that offers regional protection that is bigger than a city but smaller than a state. This is what we call a “house.”
You can use the TM symbol right now for free. But it doesn't give you what is a registered trademark where you pay some money and file paperwork.
When you have a registered trademark, it gives you strong evidence and the right to use the trademark regionally and nationally. It protects your brand like an electric fence.
Three Big Trademark Mistakes to Avoid
Mistake 1: Not Getting a Trademark Because You Already Have a Domain
The first mistake people make is not getting a trademark because they already have a domain name. Just because you have a website or social media handles doesn't mean you don't need a trademark.
To protect your business, you need to trademark it. This will ensure that you have legal proof of ownership and that you can defend and enforce your rights. It can also be a sign that your brand is legally legit.
Mistake 2: Handling the Trademark Later When The Business Gets Bigger
Did you know that an average trademark dispute can cost a brand over $200,000? That's why trademarks are a cost of doing business. It's not something you should do later.
You should figure it out as soon as possible. Ideally, before you even launch your brand. You're taking a huge risk of infringing on another brand or at least being accused of it.
Mistake 3: Doing a Trademark Search and Thinking You are Ok because Nothing Came Up
When starting a business, it's important to do a trademark search to make sure your chosen name is available. You can do this by searching the trademark database as well as Google. If the name is available, you can then move on to registering it and protecting your brand.
Comprehensive searches are tricky to do. They expire immediately. It should be something that you prioritize. And if you go through that comprehensive search and you see that it is available, it's worth moving forward, getting that application filed quickly so that you don't find out months later that someone else beat you to it.
Ready, Set, Register a Trademark
Joey Vitale's law firm, Indie Law, can actually help make trademark registration easier. He calls it the RAD process.
- Review: They review the trademark and compare it with others for red flags.
- Aim: Strategically prepare the application for successful registration.
- Done: His team submits the application and does all the heavy lifting.
What to do next?
Registering a trademark is an important step in protecting your brand. Not only does it give you legal proof of ownership, but it also can help deter others from infringing on your rights. That's why it's crucial to do a comprehensive search before registering your trademark and to have a team in place who can help with the application process.
If you'd like support in securing your own be sure to book a call with Joey!
If you'd like support in growing your business with video and organic social, book a call with me! www.Molly.live/bookacall