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Do small businesses need trademarks?

There is a misconception that trademarks are only for the big fish. Think again.



Clients often ask me: do I need a trademark as a small business? Aren’t trademarks just for big companies who want to be household names?


Maybe you are a brick and mortar business with only one location. Maybe you are a startup that hasn’t closed your first funding round yet. Maybe you are a solopreneur who serves clients from the comfort of your living room couch. Do these types of businesses still need trademarks?


Absolutely yes.


In fact, large competitors would love for you to believe the myth that trademarks are only for the big fish. Leaving your trademark on the table would make it much easier for them to swoop in and take it one day, should they desire to.


So why do small businesses and new startups need trademarks? I’ll give you four reasons:


Ownership


You got into business so that you could own something and call it yours. Owning an LLC, an S-Corp, or a C-Corp has limited value if you don’t actually own the name. That’s right - owning a business entity is not the same thing as owning its name. This is where trademarks come in. Trademarks are about legally owning the name that consumers and clients recognize. This legal ownership also allows for exclusivity - the right to stop competitors from copying or using the same name.


The Best Offense is a Good Defense


Trademarks are also a great defensive maneuver. Large brands are constantly on the hunt for new names for their hundreds of products, programs, and initiatives. If a small business has never bothered to trademark its name, that is public information that anyone can look up. When a name is unprotected, a big brand might conclude that the name is ripe for the taking. On the flip side, if the name has been trademarked, a big brand will probably think twice before trying to copy it.


Beating Online Copycats


For businesses that operate online (i.e. any business that has a website and social media accounts) copycat websites and social media accounts are a real concern. For business owners who have trademarked, they can typically take action against copycats by submitting trademark complaints on sites like Amazon, Etsy, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and GoDaddy. For business owners who have not trademarked, they may be out of luck. Many of these websites will only accept a complaint from someone who owns a valid trademark registration number.


Legacy


Trademarks are different from every other types of intellectual property. Patents expire. Copyrights expire. Trademarks can last forever and be passed down to your children (or whoever you would like to inherit after you). Securing the trademark is a crucial part of passing down a prosperous business, instead of a problematic one.


Trademarks are not just for the big fish. In fact, they can be one of the best offensive and defensive tools that a small business owner has.



Thanks for reading the Bevel Law Blog! While this information is hopefully helpful to you, nothing in this blog is intended to be legal advice. Always consult a lawyer before making any legal decisions based on topics in this blog.


Ready to secure your intellectual property? Book a call today at bevellaw.com/call.


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