When should you start the trademark registration process for your company, brand, or service name? The answer is, as soon as humanly possible.
The number one mistake that I have seen clients make over the 11 years that I’ve run my practice is falling in love with a name and having no ability to change it. That’s because if I run a trademark search for the client, and, advise that the name could be infringing on another trademark, the client is likely to ignore my judgement and try to file the trademark application. Once the client puts its product in the marketplace, they will likely receive a cease and desist letter and will need to change their name anyhow.
The earlier you start the trademark registration process, the more potential issues you can avoid.
Getting a lawyer involved, however painful that may seem, is important when deciding on a company, brand, or service name. Our goal as trademark attorneys is prevent clients from building equity into a name that has to be changed 2-3 years later. It would devastating for any company to change the name of a product or service offering after having put effort and time into growing a brand.
At our firm, we offer extremely reasonable flat-rate services to do this kind of work. We can do a really good search for you before you have fallen in love and have locked in a name that you “have to” use.
The trademark registration process should start during the time you are selecting a new name.
Here is how the largest companies in the world go about selecting brand names to avoid trademark infringement lawsuits.
Large companies will start with dozens, if not hundreds, of names for a particular product or service offering. With these names, they’ll conduct a “knockout search,” which is a very quick database search to look for any obvious problems. They will then whittle it down to a handful of names that they will run full trademark searches on (typically a federal, state and common law trademark search). If none of the names pass the full search, the team will restart the process. That said, if a few names do clear the full search, only then do the business and marketing professionals select the final name for the new product or service offering.
Small businesses can afford to engage in a similar trademark process as larger companies.
You may be thinking that your small business can’t afford the same name selection process as a large company that has an abundance of resources. However, in today’s legal marketplace, there are plenty of law firms that offer very reasonable flat-rate services to help you in the name selection and clearance process.
The earlier you bring in a trademark attorney, the better we will be able to help you avoid any problems with your trademark.