As an entrepreneur, the idea of starting a clothing line is a very attractive one. It allows you to combine your creative drive with your business acumen – two qualities that most entrepreneurs possess in abundance. Starting out, however, many entrepreneurs who are interested in the fashion and apparel industries may underestimate the importance of a trademark for their clothing brand. They may feel that they don’t need a trademark until they’re more established, or that the process is too costly or time-consuming to fit into their business plan.
With a bit more knowledge about the benefits of trademark registration, however, it’s clear that it’s well worth the time, effort, and cost of registering a clothing trademark. Just for starters, you have legal proof of first use of your mark, and you gain leverage in court to put a stop to any competitor or imitator who may be infringing on your mark – a common occurrence in the clothing world.
One more item to consider when filing your clothing trademark: a trademark attorney can provide you with extensive and comprehensive expertise in submitting your application to the United States Patent & Trademark Office. Again, entrepreneurs, especially those just starting out, may overlook or reject the idea of hiring a trademark attorney. For the following reasons, however, the benefits of having an attorney’s experience on your side makes the endeavor worth the cost.
A trademark attorney is better able to find identical or similar clothing trademarks
One of the key steps in submitting your clothing trademark application is ensuring that you’re not infringing on an existing mark, meaning that yours isn’t similar or identical to someone else’s. The USPTO makes a free-form trademark research tool available, but it only provides exact matches for what you input into the system. It doesn’t provide for similarities in spelling, sound-alikes, letter replacements or omissions, and other small differences in trademarks that may cause the USPTO to consider your mark “confusingly similar” to another. Trademark attorneys have more powerful tools available to account for those issues.
A trademark attorney can help trademark application process for your clothing brand run smoothly
Submitting a trademark application for your clothing line can be a tedious and, at times, confusing process: it’s a lot of paperwork. A trademark attorney can help you fill out your application completely and accurately, giving you a better chance of getting through the process without “office actions,” or inquiries from the USPTO attorney reviewing your application. Typical areas where you might run into trouble are information about your business, the description of your product or service, the classification of your product or service according to USPTO-defined distinctions, and your trademark specimen – the sample of how your mark will be used to identify your product or service. A trademark attorney has the expertise to lower the chances of mistakes in these areas.
A trademark attorney can help you get all the protections that you require for your line of clothing
A primary reason that it’s important to correctly submit the classification and specimen sections of your trademark application is that if you inadvertently make an error, or omit an area of protection that you desire, your mark becomes that much more limited and narrow in scope. If you intend to use a mark on more than one type of product, for instance, you need to submit trademark applications for each class of good or service that you wish to cover. It’s important to know the subtleties of the classification system for this very reason. Not only will the USPTO return an application with an incorrectly classified product, but even if you submit a correctly classified application, you may not cover the full scope of protection that you wish to.
A trademark attorney can help you use and police your registered trademark properly
Once your trademark application is approved and your mark registered, you still need to be vigilant over the use of your mark – both on behalf of your business, and any illicit use by another entity. A trademark attorney can advise you on all the factors that go into proper usage of your mark – with the “R” symbol as opposed to the “TM” symbol once you’re successfully registered, just as one example.
An attorney can also assist you in those instances where legal action may be required to put a stop to infringement – it’s best to have an attorney handle any situation where even the threat of legal action may be required, so that you can be more confident that you’re in the right, and going about your challenge the right way.
A trademark attorney help you get the most value out of your clothing brand trademark
Embarking on the trademark application process is a major undertaking, and a wise one for your business. The assistance of a trademark attorney in lowering your chances of an office action or delayed application, as well as ensuring that your application is as thorough and complete as possible in regards to the full range of trademark protections that you desire, is critical in getting the maximum value out of the resources that you devote to your trademark. A strong, well-protected trademark can have a big impact on your brand and, by extension, your bottom line and the success of your business. Don’t overlook the importance of the process or the benefits of an attorney’s assistance.