Protecting You and Your Brand
If you’ve recently designed a great new product, come up with a unique business name or created an eye-catching logo, you’ll want to trademark it as soon as possible. Failing to do so could lead to someone stealing and profiting from your ideas. In this handy guide on trademarks, you’ll learn how to best protect your brand.
Read on to discover what a trademark is, learn how to find out if you’re already trademark protected and establish how to secure brand protection. Let’s jump in and find out more.
What are Trademarks?
A trademark is a legally binding process that ensures that your ideas are protected by law. They can be obtained for specific products or services, as well as brand names and product names. They can also protect the logos or slogans associated with your brand.
Let’s imagine you’re opening a fast food restaurant and have created a revolutionary vegan burger with bacon called the Veganbaconator 2000. Unless you want someone else to steal that name, you’ll need to trademark it. By purchasing a trademark, you’ll be able to display the product name as Veganbaconator 2000™. The ™ logo will inform your competitors that this product belongs to your brand.
Trademarks provide you with important protections, helping to ensure that no one can mimic your brand. Without trademarking, another person would be able to open an identical store with the same brand name and identical products - with little to no repercussions for doing so. In fact, they could trademark your ideas before you do - meaning that you’d be stealing from them by continuing to use the names or make the products you invented.
Trademarking is an important step in the business creation and operation process. No business is secure from identity theft without it. The best practice is for trademarks to be secured before your first product is made available to consumers and before any of your stores open.
How Do I Know If I Have Trademark Protection?
You’ll only have trademark protection if you complete a process known as trademark registration. This involves applying for a trademark through the U.S. Patent Trademark Office or a third-party company.
If you don’t remember applying for trademark protection but think you might have or are wondering whether a business partner has trademarked your brand already, you can search online using the Trademark Electronic Search System. This system includes every trademark that’s currently registered in the United States. A simple search of your brand or products in this search engine will let you know whether you have a trademark name or trademark logo in the U.S. Government’s database.
If you don’t have trademark protection, you’ll need to obtain it today. You can do this through the U.S. Patent Trademark Office or use Trademark Engine to speed up the process.
How Can I Obtain a Trademark?
There are two methods for obtaining a trademark. The first uses the U.S. Patent Trademark Office’s website, while the second uses a third-party organization called Trademark Engine. Let’s explore each in turn.
The U.S. Patent Trademark Office
On the U.S. Patent Trademark Office website, you’ll be guided through the process of trademarking your ideas. As part of the application process, you’ll need to write a detailed document about your brand and the elements you want to protect.
It’s important to note that your trademark or trademarks will only apply to your specific industry. This method doesn’t provide much in the way of help and support, which can make it difficult to use. There’s a charge for this process, with additional fees added for each extra element you want to trademark. Costs start at around US$250.
Once your application is submitted to the U.S. Patent Trademark Office, it can take up to 12 months to receive confirmation either way. You’ll be able to check on the status of your application using your online portal.
If the U.S. Patent Trademark Office system seems too difficult to use and offers too little support for you as a first-time business owner, it’s worth working with professional trademark experts. Third-party organizations like Trademark Engine offer support services that include a review of your application and a consultation with a lawyer who can answer any questions you may have about the trademarking process.
Trademark Engine and other third-party trademark services will also file your application for you with the U.S. Patent Trademark Office, saving you the trouble of using the clunky system yourself.