Starting up a business requires a lot of planning and preparation. From your business name to the marketing strategy and design for a great website, you need to conduct thorough research about trademark registrations before opening your company to the public. A trademark is a legally registered sign, design, or expression that represents your company’s brand, making it distinct from others.
Here’s what you need to do to avoid leaving your business open to a very damaging liability due to trademark infringement.
1. Understand what trademark is
More than anything else, it’s essential to have an in-depth understanding of what a trademark is. Generally speaking, a mark is known as the brand name. It can be a sign, words, phrases, logos, or symbols that distinguish your company from others in the market.
When it comes to making buying decisions, trademarks are essential as most customers purchase products or services based on the brand name they represent. However, take note that trademarks are considered business assets that should be registered. If they’re not licensed, you may be held liable for trademark infringement.
To avoid this business complication, think about a trademark that’s unique from the very beginning.
2. Check if your proposed trademark is available for use
Before opening your proposed trademark to the public, check whether it’s available for use. With a business idea in place, try to do your Internet search and get some keywords related to your company. See if there are similar marks to what you’re planning on the Internet. If so, you can tweak or change them.
3. Talk to an attorney
Speaking to an experienced trademark attorney can be beneficial under these circumstances. Using their legal knowledge and skills, they can find out if anyone else has already taken the mark. If the search shows that someone else uses your proposed mark, your attorney will tell you to come up with another trademark. That way, you’ll not end up facing some trademark lawsuits that may affect your business in the long run.
4. Avoid confusion when choosing a trademark
As mentioned, you should know if someone else is utilizing the trademark you want for your business. If so, then you should make every step not to use those marks for your company’s own good.
When choosing a trademark, be sure to avoid confusion in the first place. Although the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is capable of determining the likelihood of confusion between two marks, you should still do your review. This is to prevent any unnecessary hassle along the way.
Check how similar or dissimilar the two trademarks are based on the appearance and sound. Make sure the consumers will not be confused about the source of the product or service if you use your trademark.
5. Know the consequences of trademark infringement
Facing trademark lawsuits can be detrimental to your company’s growth and success. Thus, it’s essential to learn from other businesses’ mistakes when it comes to infringing on the trademark of another. Remember, committing a trademark infringement comes with serious consequences. T
o avoid dealing with legal issues later, you should have a better understanding of these consequences and how they can impact your business. Below are the consequences of trademark infringement:
- Forced to stop using the mark – Whether the infringement is intentional or not, the violation in itself may have damaging effects. For instance, you may be forced to cease using the mark, which may affect your business’ reputation. Plus, you may pay a large amount of legal fees to prove that your use of the trademark is without knowledge of another company’s trademark
- Payment of damages – If someone else proves that your use of infringing marks has caused confusion or deception to customers, the court will ask you to pay for damages to the aggrieved party. The losses include the profits lost, injury to business reputation, costs incurred by the injured party in preventing customers from being confused by your use of the infringing mark, and the expenses spent for the correction of the confusion.
6. Register your trademark
There are essential advantages to protecting and registering your company’s trademark. With registration, you can prevent the possible registration of a new trademark that’s somehow similar to your registered mark. Not only that, but it also gives your target market a public notice that you own the trademark you’re using, which can defend against anyone’s claim that their late use is in good faith.
As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure the reputation of your company. By keeping these things in mind, you can be sure that the trademark you use is free from obligations and isn’t registered under another company.
Doing so will ensure that the time, money, and effort you spend are all worth it.