Given the number of businesses popping up each year exponentially, it’s important to create a distinctive brand online to set yourself apart. Establishing a strong brand is critical in a business. The last thing you want to find out is that someone is already using the same trade name that you have been using. So, take these 5 steps to protect your brand and trademarks.
Intellectual Property consists of intangible rights. They can include patents, trademarks, copyright, artwork, designs, literature, logos, brands, confidential information, trade secrets and other creations. Owning trademarks rights for example can give a brand owner a competitive advantage as it gives the owner of that intellectual property exclusive use for the right to use that trade name for a specified number of year. It also protects competitors from leveraging the goodwill you have created from your trademarked brands. The following tips will help you protect your brand:
1) Know the Difference Between Registering Your Business and Trademarks
Business owners make the mistake of confusing business names with trade-mark rights. Just because you register your business name, does not mean that you automatically own the trademarks right to the name or that someone else is not using the same or similar name.
In order to protect your name from others wanting to use the same or similar name, you will need to file a trademark registration in each territory. The registered trademark owner owns the proprietary rights in the name. With a trademark registration, a business owner can then sue another entity for trademark infringement. A trademark owner should pursue the infringer for using the same or similar name that causes confusion as to the source of the wares or services. Read more about trademarks here:
2) Assuming a Domain Registration Grants you Trademark Rights
A domain registration does not give you rights to the business name or trademark rights. Be careful in making this assumption. Check your trademark rights first before registering the domain name.
3) Do Due Diligence on Your Brand or Trademark Name
Before deciding on a name, do your due diligence and check to make sure that your proposed brand, product or service does not infringe the rights of any third party. It is important to check the domain name, business name and trademarks all at the same time. Just because you have a domain name
4) Register Trademarks for Company Name, Product/Services Brand Names and Slogans
A trademark registration for the name of your company is important and the first thing a self employed business owner may do. However, many business owners stop there and don’t think about registering their product names or slogans. it’s equally important to protect any slogans, logos or the name of key products that may have unique names. Otherwise, you could run into problems down the road.
5) Create an Intellectual Property Policy and Strategy for your Trademarks
It is important to document all trademarks with proof of use of the trademark in commerce in the event it’s ever challenged by a third party. A business owner should keep all invoices, receipts, sample products and anything that would prove use of the trademark and the date it was first used. Always ensure that you properly label, document and update this information on a regular basis.
6) Keep Track of Expiration and Renewal Dates for Your Trademarks
Make sure you have a tickler or audit system that will remind you when your trademark is about to expire so you can renew. It’s important to ensure the trademarks for your brands remain registered or you can lose them. In addition, police competitors trademarks or others marks that may be similar to yours. You can either do it yourself or have a law firm do this for you by reviewing notices of new trademarks in various trademark journals.