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Three Common Trademark Mistakes Made By Businesses

by | Jun 6, 2019 | Intellectual Property

rubber stamp printed with trademark[/caption]

The names, symbols, and logos associated with your business can be valuable assets. By registering them as trademarks, you help protect your business from predatory competitors who want to make money off your hard work.

Unfortunately, many businesses make some simple mistakes that impact their ability to benefit from that protection. Learn from the errors of businesses that have come before you to ensure you correctly apply for and maintain your trademarks.

Mistake #1: Assuming Your Business Name Can Be Registered

Maybe your business has a unique name. Or you believe you made up a word. Do not let any assumptions get in the way of registering your trademarks (i.e., words, designs, or a combination of both that identify the source of products and services).

Do your research to determine whether your trademarks can be registered. Ask yourself:

  • Does my business or brand name include a first or last name? If so, it may be harder or even impossible to protect with a trademark.
  • Is my business or brand name descriptive? Does it directly describe the product or service you offer? If so, you may not be able to protect it with a trademark.
  • Have I conducted a comprehensive search to determine if my business name is unique? A Google search does not count. Reach out to an intellectual property lawyer for information on how to conduct a thorough trademark clearance search for your business name.

Mistake #2: Failing to Properly Apply for a Trademark

Just because your business name is registered with the state in which you began doing business that does not mean that you own a trademark registration. When you are ready to register your trademarks, you should take the process very seriously.

The application process is not simple. Your business will need to provide specific details about the goods or services you provide in order to register the trademarks.

During the application process, you will also have to consider your digital marketing strategy. It is easy for a competitor to register a domain name, URL, or social media profile that pushes the line of infringement.

Talk to your attorney about how to protect all of your goods, services, and marketing strategies under your trademark registrations.

Mistake #3: Failing to Use the Trademark and Maintain the Registration

Once you have applied for a trademark registration, you must actually use the trademark. If you do not use it, you may not lose the trademark registration and be unable to collect damages from competitors who infringe on your rights.

Five years after your business registers a trademark, you need to file a declaration of continued use and incontestability. If you fail to file the declaration, you will lose the registration. You also have to file a renewal at the ten year anniversary and every ten year anniversary of the registration.

Failing to maintain your trademark registration and/or using the trademark in commerce opens up opportunities for competitors to steal and use the trademarks without legal consequences.


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