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Business Owners Who Ignore Their “Signs” Do So At Their Own Peril

by | Apr 15, 2021 | Basics of Intellectual Property, Intellectual Property

I have worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, as well as small, medium, and large businesses. So trust me when I say that I understand starting a business and keeping it operating takes a lot of determination, planning, and an open mind. Those who are the most successful not only recognize when they face a problem that could significantly impact their business, but also have the smarts and humility to seek out skilled help in these situations.

So I get really frustrated when a potential client comes to me and tells me they want my team to help them to fight the final judgment that has been entered against their company. Not because they tried a different attorney and things went badly, but due to the fact that they ignored cease and desist letters — or even a lawsuit that was filed against them in court! It is even more frustrating when I can see that they had a viable defense, but now it is too late.

It makes me think of comedian Bill Engvall, who is well-known for his “Here’s Your Sign” jokes. Essentially, the idea behind his bit is that people miss clear, obvious signals about something when they should know better. That they don’t pay attention to the signs.

Well, in the world of business, getting a cease and desist letter is your clear and obvious signal that you have a problem and need to get legal help. Being served with a lawsuit is your clear and obvious signal that you are in deep trouble and need to bring in the legal cavalry as soon as possible.

Another “sign” is when someone files their own trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and receives a Notice of Opposition to the trademark application from a very large corporation or university. If you want your trademark approved, it is time to get someone on your team who knows how to negotiate with the Opposer and file a procedurally correct Answer and Affirmative Defenses.

Sending emails and letters to the Opposer that threaten them and allow you to vent your anger do not help. The trademark will never get registered this way, and you will spend a lot more money creating a new trademark and marketing campaign after the Opposer finishes with you.

Why, then, do some business owners risk losing their business by ignoring these “signs”?  

When Attempting to Save Money Can Cost You Everything

The simple truth is that some business owners think if they just ignore these problems, they will go away without them having to “waste” money on legal professionals. However, this reasoning is seriously flawed. If you do this, nine times out of ten you are going to end up spending a lot more money just trying to save your business. Worse, your chances of successfully doing so drop exponentially.

A huge part of being able to run a successful business and keep it going is having the ability to recognize “your sign” when it comes and act based on reason and logic rather than emotion.

So the next time you receive a cease and desist letter, a summons with a Complaint, a Notice of Opposition, or a Petition to Cancel, stop and ask yourself: is this “my sign” to reach out to the professionals? 


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