As a business owner, you understand the importance of protecting your brand. That said, many businesses fail to take even the most basic steps to ensure a brand is receiving as much legal protection as possible. Here are the most common trademark mistakes I see clients make time and time again:
- Not working with an experienced trademark attorney
- Not conducting a comprehensive trademark search
- Failing to register your trademarks with the USPTO
- Not actively policing your trademark once it’s registered
- Not maintain your mark through consistent use and renewals
1. Not Working with a Trademark Attorney
Entrepreneurs, by nature, have a do-it-yourself approach to business. This will no doubt benefit you as you develop your product or service, design your storefront, and hire employees, but taking the DIY approach to trademark registration could cost you time and money in the long run. There are many detailed legal decisions that need to be made during the registration process, from conducting a trademark search to selecting the right international classes of goods and services that your trademark will represent. In order to get the broadest protection possible for your mark, it’s wise to consider working with a trademark attorney.
Don’t just take it from me! A recent study conducted by the University of North Carolina found that applications filed by trademark attorneys actually have a significantly higher likelihood of approval than those that did not. While 57% of people filing without the help of an attorney received approval from the USPTO, the number jumped to 83% when submitted with the help of an attorney. In fact, our firm works with many business owners that first went through the application process on their own, only to be rejected and forced to refile. Avoid this costly and time-consuming mistake by working with an experienced trademark attorney from the beginning.
2. Not Conducting a Comprehensive Trademark Search
The USPTO will not approve your trademark if a confusingly similar mark is already in use. Because of this, you should learn about potential similar marks before you submit your application with the USPTO. While it’s certainly frustrating to learn your mark or one that’s similar, is already in use, it’s best to know that before you pay your fees and submit your application. If you learn that your mark already exists, you have the ability to make the necessary changes to your mark before you submit your application.
Many business owners understand the importance of a trademark search, but they opt to use a free online search, or even Google, to conduct their trademark searches. This may seem like a budget-friendly solution, but often, it’s not. That’s because these searches typically only reveal exact matches to your trademark. Unfortunately, most trademark disputes arise from confusingly similar marks, not exact matches, which means your free search may not turn up all possible trademark matches. The software used by trademark attorneys, on the other hand, is much more comprehensive, revealing not only exact matches, but similar matches to your name, logo, or slogan as well. Engage with an experienced attorney to assist with your trademark search.