As cities across the U.S. either experience a continued boom or a period of strong, aggressive rebuilding, construction management has moved to the forefront as an industry. Experts in the field are taking hands-on experience to developers, contractors, and other builders to maximize efficiency, quality, and opportunity in the structures they are building.
Owners of construction management companies are as savvy business-wise as they are in matters of concrete and steel: it’s what they – and you – have built their success on. There is one area, however, that proves to be a recurring blind spot: the issue of trademark protection.
For any number of reasons, trademarks can take backseat to nearly every other facet of the construction management business: from getting the business started, to generating leads, to making sales, to actually carrying out projects. In the midst of all that, it’s easy to forget that a registered trademark is as important to your business as the structural integrity of your next project. Without a registered trademark, there’s a real threat to your bottom line as competitors can benefit from your name and reputation, inadvertently or on purpose, with or without your knowledge. In fact, you may never find out until it’s too late.
What are the specifics of why it’s important to register a trademark for your construction management business? Let’s take a more in-depth look.
A registered trademark helps protect you against infringing on other businesses.
The threat of other businesses infringing upon you is primary and critical. It’s also important, however, to be sure that you aren’t infringing upon another existing business. Doing so can have major repercussions, ranging from the need to cease use of your established name to paying damages if you are found to be willful in your use of a infringing name.
Researching your desired trademark can help you be more confident that your construction management name isn’t infringing on one already in existence. Researching existing marks will also help you ensure that you select a name that is unique and distinctive. The stronger and more distinct a trademark is, the easier it is to defend and enforce in the future.
A registered trademark gives you significant legal leverage against infringement and claims of infringement.
Two of the biggest threats to your construction management business, trademark-wise, are other companies infringing on your mark, and other companies accusing you of infringing on their mark. As discussed above, researching and registering your mark can help you proactively avoid infringing on an existing mark. Should another party come along anyway and accuse you of infringing, having a federally registered trademark puts you in a stronger negotiating position, and, may even help you defend the claim entirely.
Likewise, other companies may infringe on your trademark. Some may see your success and attempt to craft a similar name (or, in the most brazen cases, use an identical or very nearly identical name). Others may not be aware of your business and your mark – which does not make them any less likely to confuse potential customers into choosing them when they meant to choose you. In either case, your registered trademark gives you broad latitude to request cessation of the use of a name and/or mark, and again, should the need for legal proceedings arise, a registered mark gives you a significant head start in any litigation.
Maintaining a registered trademark requires you to monitor and police your mark.
Once your USPTO trademark application is accepted and approved, you are entitled (and required) to monitor all potentially infringing use of your trademark. It’s important to remain active and aware of any potential infringement, as continued, unimpeded use of a mark similar or identical to yours may create the implication that your mark is no longer unique or distinctive. Failure to police a trademark properly can result in loss of the federal registration and/or any common law rights that you may have in the trademark. Most trademark law firms can assist you in properly monitoring your trademark once the registration is obtained.
Becoming very successful as a construction management company can be a double-edged sword – as you are enjoying your thriving business, your name and trademark will become more desirable to other entities, and you may not have time to actively police and prevent illicit use of your name. That’s just one scenario that illustrates the need to remain acutely aware of all potentially infringing uses of your mark. A trademark attorney can not only help you attain a registered trademark – they can also assist in trademark monitoring and policing, using advanced tools to seek out any mark usage that may even be considered close to infringing on yours. The services of an attorney can be invaluable when you consider the potential long-term effect on your bottom line.