Protecting Your Start-Up With A Trademark
Utilizing Federal Trademark Law to protect your company as you build your brand is crucial when preparing to launch your start-up.
Selecting a Brand Name for Your Start-UpIt is highly tempting to hit the ground running with that “perfect” brand name you have come up with, wise entrepreneurs always do their due diligence prior to choosing a brand.
The first step, in designing an effective Trademark strategy for your start-up, is conducting a detailed search of the market to ensure that another company is not in use of the name you have in mind. To start, simply conduct a Google search or a search of the online database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
However, these types of searches are limited, and marks that a USPTO Trademark Examining Attorney would cite as “confusingly similar” against your brand name, might be overlooked, which could lead to denial of your Trademark registration petition.
For that reason, hiring an experienced Trademark Attorney is necessary when conducting a Trademark search. A Trademark Attorney could conduct a comprehensive search focusing on the risk levels associated with attempting to register the brand name you have chosen in order to avoid wasting time filing for the registration of a name the USPTO will not accept.
Conducting this search early in the pre-launch process of your start-up gives you an opportunity to make any necessary changes to the name of your brand before it becomes an issue.
Reserving Federal Rights to Your MarkOnce the Trademark search complete and you feel confident that you have selected the right name for your brand, reserve the federal rights to your mark.
U.S. Trademark Law allows applicants who have a bona-fide intent to use the mark to apply for a federal registration before officially debut of their businesses. This allows entrepreneurs to “reserve the rights” to their mark while they are still preparing for the official launch of their companies. If necessary, applicants who reserve their rights, can extend their reservation for up to 36 months.
Nevertheless, once the business becomes operational, a second filing with the USPTO is required to prove that a mark is indeed being “used in commerce” as was originally indicated in the Trademark application. Depending on the type of service or product, your business offers, will typically require providing proof that you are actively selling or serving to customers or clients across the United States.
Policing and Enforcing Your TrademarkOnce the USPTO approves your Trademark registration, the next step will be policing the rights to your mark. When it comes to policing the market, to ensure other businesses are not infringing on a Trademark, it is a task for the Trademark owner, not for the USPTO.
There are several ways to do this. You can simply conduct a periodic Google search of your Trademark focusing on your specific market. Still, the best way to approach this part of your Trademark strategy is hiring an experienced Trademark Attorney who can monitor the USPTO database to make sure other companies in the same market are not using your Trademark. At Jurado & Farshchian, P.L., we can do this for your company.
Not monitoring your Trademark can be severe; your business could suffer. For example, the poor quality of services of products offered by a competitor using a similar name.
Working with an Experienced Trademark AttorneyThe process of launching a start-up can be overwhelming for most entrepreneurs. Still, there is no excuse for overlooking protecting the name of your brand with a Trademark. Moreover, choosing the name of your brand and applying for Trademark registration early will undoubtedly save you a headache or two in the future.