In the health and beauty industry, branding is everything. A strong brand leads to greater customer loyalty, which you know is essential to your growth in the industry. For this reason, it is crucial for you to protect your brand through federal trademark registration in the United States. The following trademark tips for beauty brands show you how to develop and protect your brand.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, will not register your trademark if a similar mark is already in use. Unfortunately, some business owners fall in love with a name and often begin to build their brand around it, without knowing if it’s already in use. Moving forward with a business or product name that already exists, no matter how much you love it, maybe a risky decision. Ultimately, if you move forward and use a trademark that is too close to someone else’s, you could be asked to stop sales and production immediately and then rebrand.
One way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to develop your trademark in the same way that many of the largest corporations do. Avoid falling head over heels for a single mark, and instead, choose several possible options. Next, do a quick “knock-out” search online, a very basic search to see if any of your choices are already in use. If so, eliminate them right away. Then, take your remaining options to your trademark attorney to conduct a thorough trademark search. You may find that all of your choices have been taken or may cause confusion in the marketplace. If that is the case, you may need to go back to the drawing board. However, you could learn that one or more of your trademark options are free and clear to use. In that case, choose the mark that is most unique and move forward with trademark registration as soon as possible.
2. Register with the USPTO
It’s true that simply using your beauty brand’s trademark in the marketplace will grant you some protections, but these are extremely limited. Not only are they more challenging to enforce, but they also only protect you in the small, geographic region where your beauty business is based. This may be fine for those that plan to keep the business local, selling at regional farmer’s markets or boutiques, but most beauty businesses have their eyes on much larger growth potential. If you plan to do business outside your region, you should register your beauty brand’s trademark with the USPTO.
With a federal trademark registration, you’ll have the presumption of nationwide validity. This means that if you expand your business to another area of the country, your trademark protections will follow you. In addition, the date that you file your application with the USPTO will become your priority date. Anyone looking to file a similar mark will likely be refused. For this reason, if you haven’t already begun the process to register your mark, now is the time to start.
3. Work with a Trademark Attorney
The USPTO doesn’t require US citizens to work with a trademark attorney, but they highly encourage it. This is because of all the many legal decisions that need to be made throughout the process. From completing a comprehensive trademark search to choosing the correct international classes for the goods or services you plan to offer, it can become overwhelming. Working with an experienced trademark attorney, however, will not only decrease your stress, but it may also increase your chance of approval. In fact, a recent study by the University of North Carolina found that applications filed by trademark attorneys increased their likelihood of approval by up to fifty percent!
4. Consider International Registration
The legal protections of a federal trademark are valuable to maintaining your brand, but it is important to note that these protections only apply to disputes within the U.S. For beauty brands that sell online or plan to expand internationally one day, you may want to consider developing a strategic plan for international registration. Think about the countries where you currently have customers, as well as the locations of your manufacturers and distributors. Begin registration in these countries, and then consider where you plan to grow in the future.
Beauty brands should also consider defensive trademark registration in China. Because it’s a first-to-file country, anyone can be granted trademark rights in China simply by being the first to file the trademark application. Unfortunately, this means that someone watching the successful rise of your brand in the United States can file your trademark in China, hoping to ransom it to you at a much higher price when you finally decide to register in that country. Counterfeiting is also a huge business in China, but with a registered trademark in that country, you can also register with Chinese Customs, who will seize potential counterfeit goods and alert you if they are found.
5. Enforce Your Trademark Rights
The USPTO registers trademarks, but they do not monitor or enforce their use. As a trademark owner, the responsibility is yours. In the beauty industry, as you know, customer loyalty and brand reputation is everything. If someone else is using your mark, it could confuse customers and steer them away from your products. If the infringing product is inferior, it could greatly affect your brand’s reputation in the industry. This is why you must take swift action if you suspect possible infringement.
Managing your beauty brand most likely takes up much of your time these days, and you may be wondering how you can find the time to monitor your trademark’s use. Thankfully, most trademark attorneys offer monitoring services for their clients. Your attorney can track your trademark’s use and alert you to possible infringement. Together, you can then decide on the best course of action to take. Often a simple cease-and-desist letter is all that is needed, but occasionally, more formal legal proceedings may be necessary. The important thing to remember is to always consult with an attorney before taking any legal action to ensure it is appropriate.
Trademark Your Beauty Brand
Whether you’ve been selling your beauty line for years or you’ve just developed your first product, the time to consider trademark registration is now. First, take the time to choose a strong name for your brand and conduct a search to be sure it isn’t already in use. Work with a trademark attorney to register your trademark with the USPTO and strongly consider international trademark registration as well. Once your mark is registered, monitor its use and enforce your rights as a trademark owner. These practical steps will ensure that your beauty brand’s strong reputation remains in your control.