Managing a business has always been challenging, even for veteran entrepreneurs. Because of how competitive the business world is, it’s best to stay on your toes. Otherwise, your livelihood would be compromised. And restabilizing it to normal will squeeze excessive resources from your business that shouldn’t have been wasted in the first place.
But before you reach that point, starting a business is the most crucial part of any business, regardless of whether you’re only planning to make money off the side while you focus on your main line of work. Naturally, having a business without establishing a name for it is impossible. After all, that alone becomes your business’s identity. Hence, that’s what your customers will latch onto. And if your business garners an excellent reputation, pleased customers will spread the word.
However, the more widespread your brand’s reputation is, the more you leave your business wide open. Now that you have the eyes of a growing consumer base, your identity is at risk of being violated by the competition or by set regulations that you’re unaware of. For instance, stealing your brand name is a constant issue in business. Although these regulations protect your business, other competitors will do anything to bring you down. But trademarking it can help improve your protection.
What Is A Trademark?
Also called the identity of a business, trademarks serve as legal proof that you own your brand name. They can be anything that embodies your business, whether it’s a minimalistic symbol or phrase. By registering a trademark for your business, you’re within your rights to prevent other business owners from stealing your products.
But just because it’s backed by the law, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to lower your guard and leave it at that. Some specific details are tripwires that might trigger after unknowingly stumbling into them, hence making your trademarks useless either way.
To avoid that situation, here are some trademark mistakes you must avoid:
7 Mistakes To Avoid When Trademarking Your Business
Not Applying for Your Trademark
Despite its straightforward purpose, officially registering a trademark takes time and preparation. However, just because your trademark application is being processed doesn’t mean you’re automatically protected. While you’re waiting for the officials to process your application, the ‘dead air’ might be an opportunity for the competition to use your concept and brand it as their own. Hence, they’ve cut you off right before reaching the finish line.
Having a presence in the marketplace already acts as a ‘trademark’ since consumers who know about it serve as your witnesses. But if you don’t have that large a customer base yet, file an Intent to Use Application. Granted, there’s a statement of use filing fee to pay. However, having an Intent to Use Application might make you eligible to receive a Notice of Allowance, which grants you some financial support for finding a foothold in the marketplace until your trademark application is approved.
Relying On The Symbol Alone
Once you’ve successfully registered a trademark, your brand name will have a ‘TM’ symbol on the corner. Although that proves you’re the originator of your concept, competitors can still overlook it. After all, it’s only limited to the geographical area where your business is stationed. Therefore, competitors outside the area can apply for a trademark with similar material as yours.
To protect your business for good, take it to the next level and go to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Register your trademark there instead of settling with a local trademark office, especially if you have big plans for your business. Once it’s done processing, you now have the right to use the ‘R’ symbol, which means ‘registered trademark.’
Lack Of Research
Even though you’ve created a concept that you believe is one-of-a-kind, being overconfident might bite you as soon as you trademark it. Because to your surprise, your ‘unique’ idea already has different versions of trademarks throughout the marketplace. Do a thorough search in the trademark registration records to see if someone else already did your idea. Otherwise, you might land yourself in court when previously registered trademark holders discover your idea is similar to theirs.
Using Poorly Designed Names
As important as it is to trademark your business, thinking of one tends to get business owners stumped. After all, there’s a fine line between aesthetically pleasing and plain awful. Some entrepreneurs prefer a straightforward approach and force two words together to describe their business. Meanwhile, others empower their business by claiming it’s ‘the best’ or ‘one-of-a-kind,’ even though other similar business types have similar qualities.
Be mindful when conceptualizing a brand name. Although much more convenient, combining two words could backfire immensely when they don’t slide off the tongue easily. And using hyperbolic words to ‘hype up’ your business has already been worn out by countless businesses. Take your time experimenting with different descriptions or terms before finalizing a decision.
Filling Out Insufficient Details
Filling out a trademark application form isn’t as straightforward as keeping a health record. Because instead of focusing on your current endeavors, you’re supposed to think ahead, especially if you plan to cultivate your business even further. Choosing your trademark classes is where conflict might start cropping up.
Trademark application forms require thorough detail for the trademark office to consider them legible. Therefore, going into detail with your trademark classes is a no-brainer since they indicate what products you’re selling. Hence, if you’re selling collared shirts, your collared shirts are now protected.
But as mentioned, trademarks are extremely restricting for those who plan to broaden their businesses. Although checking all of the products on the application form sounds like a great idea, doing so is illegal. Before deciding on one class, envision how you want to expand your product line. Ensure your expectations remain realistic. Otherwise, your trademark might get revoked if the office has determined you’ve filled out misleading information.
Failure To Stay Updated
It’s tempting to sit back and relax once you’ve submitted your trademark application to the office, especially with how overwhelming it is to run a business. However, neglecting the process and simply focusing on the results will backfire on your trademark. After all, problems are bound to crop up during the processing. If that happens, the trademark office will send an office action notice. Continuously ignoring each one eventually terminates your application.
Although you have countless things to keep track of, always keep an eye out for any notifications from the trademark office. Or, better yet, review your application multiple times before submitting it. That way, you can avoid encountering office action roadblocks and ensure a smooth processing flow.
While the trademark office has the power to approve trademarks, that doesn’t mean they’re duty-bound to handle any problems related to them, including the USPTO. Therefore, if you feel that another business owner has infringed on your products, filing an infringement claim falls into your hands. However, running on instinct alone without factual backing for your claim will only give you the short end of the stick.
Having a lawyer specializing in trademark and copyright laws on board is ideal, considering how confusing and tedious the entire trademark application is to the layperson. However, handling an infringement claim is where their expertise comes in handy. Hence, your chances of winning are much better now that a lawyer is assisting you.
Establishing a business in the marketplace is a challenging endeavor. With so many bright minds scattered about, they’ve likely ‘borrowed’ some concepts from one another time and time again. Because they resemble one another, it might be difficult for consumers to identify one from the other.
However, trademarking a business helps resolve that problem. But given their importance, trademarks have countless tripwires that could compromise the business. Therefore, it’s best to know what mistakes you might stumble into early on to avoid them better.
Krishna Murthy is the senior publisher at Trickyfinance. Krishna Murthy was one of the brilliant students during his college days. He completed his education in MBA (Master of Business Administration), and he is currently managing the all workload for sharing the best banking information over the internet. The main purpose of starting Tricky Finance is to provide all the precious information related to businesses and the banks to his readers.