Many times business owners and entrepreneurs spend a lot of time to come up with what they believe is a clever and catchy name for their company. These business owners have, more often than not, spend quite a deal of money and resources on marketing and promoting their brand, before considering whether their name and brand are one that could be trademarked.
Below is a short, non-exclusive list for reasons why you should work with a trademark attorney at the outset of developing your brand, versus when your company has already gained traction and notoriety.
- Your company likely has at least one name or logo that you use for advertising and marketing that you hope distinguishes it from others that you would like to protect and prevent others from using.
- You own your domain name; that is NOT the same as a trademark. This mistaken belief has gone on long enough, it’s time to fix it.
- Registering a particular name with the secretary of state as your business name is not a valid claim on the name as your trademark, in addition it will not be a defense if you are accused of infringing on someone else’s trademark.
- The mark you use does not have to be identical to others in order to be considered confusing and/or infringing.
- Common law trademarks are alive and well in the United States, so just because someone or a company does not have a registered trademark does not mean you can use it. This is one of the reasons that trademark searches are considered extensive and time-consuming.
- If you don’t use your trademark, you will lose it. Trademarks can continue perpetually, if they are in use.
The phrase “invest in yourself” is often used when considering attending seminars for knowledge; it should also be applied in determining the best ways to approach your business getting off on the right foot.
Hilary Metz is an Entertainment and Business Law attorney in Miami, FL and NYC. Ms. Metz is co-chair of the Entertainment & Sports Young Lawyers division with the ABA, a member of the Business Law Section, and a member of the Entertainment Section with the Florida Bar.