Tips for Using Trademarks to Protect and Build Your Brand

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Picture of Andrew Rapacke
Andrew Rapacke is a registered patent attorney and serves as Managing Partner at The Rapacke Law Group, a full service intellectual property law firm.
Using Trademarks To Protect and Build Your Brand

We are five months into 2019, and almost 200,000 trademark registrations have been filed with the USPTO. Each one of these filings represents a business owner taking the right steps to protect their brand.

Have you filed your trademark registrations yet? If not, there is some good news. Unlike patents, trademarks operate on a first to use and not first to file basis. But this still means you need to file to claim your ownership.

Once you have your registrations, you can use your trademark ownership to protect your brand from imposters.

Perform a Clearance Search

The first way you can protect your brand is by ensuring that no one else has a claim of ownership to it. Have your intellectual property attorney perform a search of the trademark database to determine if any part of your product is already trademarked.

This includes images, taglines, logos, symbols, and names. By performing this search, you can have confidence that no one will come along in the future and attempt to claim ownership of an aspect of your product. Their claimed ownership could result in hundreds of thousands to millions in damages, depending on how successful your product is.  

File for Registration

Once you determine that no one else has a claim, you need to file your own registration. This protects your brand from imposters and anyone trying to copy your brand’s image.

While you wait for your trademark application to process, you can give yourself preliminary protection by adding a TM or SM to your pending trademarks. The TM is the marker used for product based registrations. The SM marker is used for service based trademarks.

Once your trademark is formally registered, you can start using the (R) ® designation. This puts everyone on notice that you have full ownership.

Monitor New Applications

Now that you have your trademark fully registered, you may think you are done; this is not the case. It is your responsibility to monitor new applications in the event that one might conflict with your registered mark.

The most efficient way to do this is to enlist the assistance of an attorney. They will use monitoring services like Thomson CompuMark or Corsearch.

If a trademark application gets filed that is too close in likeness to yours; you need to file an objection. In this objection, you need to show that there is a strong likelihood of this new trademark causing confusion with consumers.

A perfect example of this in action is when Kylie Jenner tried to trademark the name Kylie in the US. She was quickly blocked by veteran Australian pop star Kylie Minogue. The Australian Kylie already owned and used her many “Kylie” trademarks on products she sold worldwide.

What is at stake here is millions of dollars’ worth of product branding on an international scale. The dispute was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Monitor Unregistered Infringements

It isn’t just the official infringements you need to be on the lookout for. Unregistered infringements are the worst kind. They are typically unsavory companies looking to cash in on your brand’s hard work, reputation, and goodwill.

It is your responsibility to respond to these infringements and put a stop to them. If you fail to take action to protect your trademark, you run the risk of losing it.

Start Protecting Your Brand

The sooner you file for trademarks, the better. This puts everyone on notice that you have ownership over your brand. It also gives you leverage to protect your brand.

Start by making sure that you aren’t infringing on anyone else’s brand. Then file your trademarks. Once you have your trademarks, remain vigilant about protecting them.

Contact us today and start protecting your brand by filing trademarks for all related symbols, names, and logos.

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