For any business that wants to establish its brand firmly in the minds of its customers, a highly recognizable trademark is absolutely essential. A trademark will be synonymous with your company, and choosing a trademark that clearly communicates your brand’s distinctives — and carries positive connotations — will help you differentiate your products from those of your competitors.
While there is lots of marketing advice that should be considered when choosing a trademark (including making sure that the words and/or images you are trademarking are appropriate to your industry), it is also important to also bear in mind that in order for a trademark to truly be effective, it needs to be registered, and registration can be a time-consuming and complicated process.
Registering a trademark essentially gives you legal right of ownership over it, meaning that you can protect it against imitators or rivals who want to profit off of it. Registration is also necessary if you want to license your trademark for another user. And if you’re a small business and you want to open an Amazon store, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that you have ownership of your trademark.
But registration is a complicated process. Even in the best-case scenario, it rarely takes less than a year from start to finish, and if there are problems with your application, it can take much, much longer. Here are three of the most common trademark registration pitfalls, and the one way you can be absolutely sure to avoid them.
Descriptive terms are one of the most common problems in trademark applications.
You can’t trademark terms that explicitly describe your products or services, For example, a shoemaker would not be permitted to trademark the word ‘shoe’ and prevent other shoemakers from using that term.
Incomplete Trademark Search
Trademark databases keep track of which trademarks are currently in use, but just because your exact trademark isn’t being used, doesn’t mean it’s free. If someone can demonstrate that they are already using the trademark you are trying to register, they have a common-law claim to it.
Overly-Broad Claims for Trademark Usage
You can only register a trademark for the goods and services for which you are using it in association with. If you produce craft beer, you cannot apply to have your trademark cover building supplies.
After all this, you are probably wondering how it is possible to cover all your bases and ensure that the application process to register your trademark goes smoothly.
The good news is, there are legal experts who can help. Hiring trademark agents to navigate the whole process, from start to finish, on your behalf is one way to guarantee that the application process to register your trademark goes smoothly and that your trademark is registered as quickly as possible.
If you think hiring a trademark agent might be the right approach for you, you can learn more from The Trademark Shop about how the process works, and what you need to do to get started.
As any seasoned business expert will tell you, there are numerous benefits to registering the trademarks that are associated with your company as quickly as possible. Not only will you be protecting your intellectual property, but you’ll also establish a firm foundation that will allow your business to grow and expand without having to worry about your hard work being co-opted by your competitors.