Everything You Need To Know About Trademarks

Imagine this scenario – you’ve worked hard on every aspect of your business. From the brand name, identity, reputation, to product design, launch, marketing and building a successful business from the ground up. 

Basically, everything you’ve worked on to set up your business and everything you still do to make it competitive. But, for some reason, you haven’t trademarked your intellectual property. This means that you don’t have any legal protection and that mistake can cost you a lot.

But, we won’t dive into such an unfortunate scenario, because we’ll outline everything you should know about trademarks. This will help you do the necessary work and avoid any legal issues in the future.

Why do you need a trademark?

In simplest terms, a trademark is a unique identifier that distinguishes your brand or your product from the sea of others. For example, a name can be considered a trademark. Google, Rolex and Coca Cola are trademarked names.

A symbol can be trademarked as well and one of the most recognised trademarked symbols is a swoosh sign we recognise as Nike. Slogans, logos, brand names, sounds,  images, colours, smells and even mascots are trademarked and cannot be used by others as it will be considered trademark infringement.

If you want to avoid anyone using your name or developing a similar product that undercuts the value of your product, you need a trademark.

Learn about trademarks

First of all, learn everything there is to learn about trademarks. Some trademarks already exist, some things cannot be trademarked and it’s up to you to find everything you can about it.

It’s best if you do these things before you invest a significant amount of money into branding strategy. You can research this before you even decide to start your trademark approval process.

You can learn if the trademark already exists, or if the brand name has already been taken and avoid any legal issues in the future.

Consult with professionals

When you decide to protect your intellectual property, it’s always a good recommendation to turn to professionals. Getting a valuable piece of advice from IP lawyers will make this process easier and more successful.

Lawyers working in this field know what steps have to be taken, which documents you’ll need and how to start the approval process.

Your goal is to learn everything you have to know about the trademark process and have a trusted confidant you can turn to whenever you need legal advice.

The list of steps to take before you trademark

1. Check to see if the trademark is available

Before you start the application process, you need to check if this trademark is available, ie. that it isn’t already taken.

By doing this, you’ll avoid trademark infringement or getting rejected at the trademark office in your country. You can do this research online with ease.

2. Differentiate between what can and can’t be trademarked

Once you determine that the thing you want to trademark isn’t taken, you need to determine whether or not it can be trademarked.

Your trademark must be unique and distinctive and in line with what you’re offering, and its unique and easily recognisable qualities. This is something you should also thoroughly research to avoid being rejected at the official trademark office.

3. Choose something you can trademark

There are things you can trademark like names, logos, business names, distinct sounds, slogans, colour combos and smells. There are also things you can’t trademark like generic words, common phrases, religious quotes and already trademarked items.

When it comes to your trademark, make sure it’s distinctively unique, never trademarked before and something you can trademark.

4. Proceed with domain registration

To avoid having someone use your distinct name as their domain, you should register your domain.

It doesn’t matter if your business is ready for its online presence or not, you have to think a few steps ahead of the competition. You want to be the first person registering it because it allows you exclusive right of use.

5. Get familiar with your rights

This is yet another thing an IP lawyer can help you with. Yes, anyone can access the laws regulating your state online, but understanding the rules and regulations might not come naturally to everyone.

A skilled professional can break down these laws into something you can easily understand.

6. Learn about the process of applying for a trademark

We’ve already mentioned that you should consult a professional that can help you with the protection of your intellectual property.

It’s best if you learn everything there is to know about the process and the importance of protecting your intellectual property.

6. Complete the process

The first five steps will prepare you for the process of registering your trademarks. You’ll be required to properly define the class and type of your trademark.

Once you do, you can submit your application and wait some time until it gets approved. Once it does, you’re protected for a period of 10 years.

Think in terms of the future

Firstly, now that you have your trademark it’s your job to enforce it. Use your trademark consistently, whenever and wherever you can. Secondly, it’s also your job to think about the trademark renewal process.

Make sure you do everything you can to protect it so that you can use it in the future. As time goes and your brand starts to grow, you don’t want to risk losing your brand recognition by not using your trademark or forgetting to renew it.

Also, as you roll out new products, make sure to do your research to check whether you can trademark them to avoid any trademark infringements.

This might sound like a lot of work especially as your business expands and grows but it will save you a lot of trouble and help you with the long term success of your business.

We can conclude that applying for a trademark is equally important as any other step you must take to protect and secure your business.

The time and effort spent on trademarking your brand name, logo, slogan or any other distinctive feature of your business will protect you against trademark infringement and also give you exclusive rights to your intellectual property.