How to Protect Your Brand
The legal low-down on how to protect what you've built.
You have a brand. No, not just the buzzword kind. A real brand. Meaning that there is a reason why people buy from you. Your business has a distinct feel, and you give your clients a particular experience. You operate your business with excellence and integrity. If something goes wrong, you make it right. Your customers trust you, and you’re proud of that. This secret sauce is your money-maker and you’ve worked hard to build it.
But this great brand that you’ve built isn’t protected, because you never registered the trademark.
But, you ask, my LLC/C-Corp is registered with my state! Doesn’t that protect me?
Nope, that’s just a business registration. It doesn’t prevent other people from using your name to sell their own goods or services.
Well, that sucks.
So how can you protect your brand and own the exclusive rights to the name? By registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This is a federal registration, which means your trademark would be protected in all 50 states. In contrast, an unregistered trademark has only common law rights. While it’s not nothing, it can be pretty hard to prove common law trademark rights in court. Not to mention expensive. (Hello legal fees).
Protecting a brand on a national scale is a big deal, which is where a good trademark attorney comes in. A good attorney is key because registration is neither a given nor a guarantee. All applications are evaluated by USPTO Examiners. Examiners are attorneys who are experts in trademark law and know the USPTO rules inside and out. If there is something wrong with your application, you’ll receive an office action. Minor office actions are usually routine and fixable. Substantive office actions can spell doom for the application.
The trademark registration process is also quite lengthy. Anywhere from 9-18 months. A good trademark attorney can keep track of the application for you and ensure that all of the deadlines are met.
While the journey may be long, success is more than worth it - a nationally registered trademark and the exclusive right to use your brand name in your industry. In other words, solid protection for the business that you’ve worked so hard to build.
Trademark law for the win.
Like free legal tips? Find them here on the Bevel Law Blog. Ready to secure your brand? Book a call today at bevellaw.com/book.