A trademark protects you, your business, and your livelihood.
By Tudor Capusan, Esq.
In the United States, trademark law is designed to help businesses succeed. It allows businesses to distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace and to compete fairly. It is no coincidence that all successful businesses trademark their brands. They do it because trademarks are valuable, not because they want to throw money away.
What Is a Trademark?
A trademark is a word, symbol, or phrase used to identify a particular manufacturer or seller’s products and distinguish them from the products of another. For example, Nike’s “swoosh” distinguishes Nike from other sports-gear companies. Similarly, the words “Coca-Cola” distinguish the brown-colored sweet beverage from another similar product, “Pepsi.” Would you really know the difference between the two if they weren’t labeled? Largely because of their different names, people notice subtle differences between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. More important, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi can sell their drinks in the same marketplace. You should copy their successful business model: show your customers your product is slightly different, and allow yourself to sell in the same marketplace.
How Do You Register a Trademark?
You have your attorney apply for registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). You can get your trademark registration certificate in about seven months. Registering your trademark saves you money and avoids future battles with your competitors.
Trademark Registration Keeps Your Competitors Away.
Competitors Won’t Use Your Name. Showing competitors your trademark registration certificate will make them think twice about using your name. That’s because the registration certificate is proof that you are the owner of that name and that you are the only one who can use it throughout the whole country. For example, those who want to open coffee shops won’t use “Starbucks” because that name is a registered trademark. You should copy that business model because it works. Competitors Can’t Ask You to Stop Using Your Name. Sometimes your competitors feel threatened when you use a name or logo that is similar to theirs. They are afraid that you will steal their customers, so they may tell you to stop using your name or logo. You can quickly assure them that you are competing fairly by showing them your trademark registration certificate. They will probably leave you alone.
Important: Trademark Early!
You should think of trademarks before you even choose a name for your business. Your business name should never be threatening to other trademark owners. Your attorney will help you choose a business name and form the business entity that is right for you. Remember that the right initial setup is absolutely crucial to your business. It will save you a lot of money and assure that you are on the fast track to success.