Have You Protected Your Company’s Trademarks?
Your company already owns a trademark. Or, if you are a start up, your company will own a trademark. You cannot avoid it. In fact, it may own several.
So, what are your company’s trademarks? At the very least, your company’s trademark is the name of your company if you use it in advertising, on letterhead, or on a product.
Your logo, your slogan, and your product names also can be trademarks. A trademark is any indication to a customer that the service or product being offered for sale originates from one source. Even a color or sound can be a company’s trademark. Think of NBC’s three-note chime at the end of a segment. Only NBC can use that combination of notes.
But, how does your company obtain rights to a trademark? All you have to do is use it! By advertising your company’s services, putting the mark on your website or on your products, your company is using the mark. Wow. Wasn’t that easy?
However, merely using the trademark does not give you maximum protection and can expose your company to liability. Because you want maximum protection for your company’s valuable assets and you certainly don’t want any unnecessary liability, your company’s trademarks should be protected, if possible, by a trademark registration from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Also, for start-up businesses or companies launching new products, services, or advertising campaigns, you can take advantage of a favorable trademark laws that essentially allow your company to reserve the trademarks it intends to use in the future. While your company has about three and half to four years before it must begin use of a mark in order to secure those rights, that period provides a very valuable head start.
The top 3 reasons why your company should take its trademarks seriously:
1. Your company will grow. The growth could be as simple as a presence on the internet or it could blossom into a franchise or a line of products. Greater growth means greater opportunity for someone to steal your company’s goodwill. It also means that there is a greater chance you may run into a company with superior rights to your company’s trademark or a mark similar to your company’s trademark.
2. A larger company may make you an offer you can’t refuse. Without federal registrations, the company may shy away from a purchase. With federal registrations, a company may pay significantly more for your business.
3. Another company could have greater rights to your trademarks. If this is the case, your company may end up having to change its name or fight for its name in court. Imagine the loss of customers, the expense of changing signs, business cards, the general confusion and explanation, or the bill from your attorney for a lawsuit.
Talk to me or another trademark attorney and protect the assets that your company owns already! Your trademarks are invaluable while you own them and can significantly increase the price tag on your company if you were to sell it. On the flip side, not paying attention to your valuable assets could expose your company to unnecessary liability.