7 Mistakes Small Businesses Make While Registering a Trademark that Costs them Money
Graphical representation of a tensed business woman worried about pending trademark registration. Image source: shutterstock.com

A trademark provides businesses and companies with an ability to communicate the origin of their good. A lot of time is put into building a brand and its trademark. A trademark essentially connects your product to your particular company in a customer’s mind.

Trademarks can also be interchangeably used with terms like service marks, and includes words, phrases, symbols and/or designs that identify the company’s products or services. It is essential to make sure you don’t made silly mistakes when it comes to your brand’s trademark. Following are seven toxic mistakes that are often made by businesses while registering a trademark:

1Failure in doing proper research of existing trademarks

It is not sufficient to merely skim through the list of registered trademarks since there can be many existing that aren’t legally registered but will still hold good under the law. You should also be careful about overlooking the “cancelled” and “abandoned” trademarks. Such cases might also have valid legal standing of the trademarks in question.

2Not using the Trademark in Commerce

Even though registering a trademark is not mandatory, it is important that company must use it in commerce in connection with specific products and services, if it wants to apply for a trademark. Failure to do so, it can file an “intent” to use the trademark in commerce for a later date. However, if the trademark is being used in commerce, a company can file a statement of use which would mean that the trademark starts being in use in a marketplace. 36 months are provided for filing of a statement of use.

3Considering a phrase or name you own as a trademark

It is essential to remember that you have no trademark rights until your mark is used in commerce. Common law and federal trademark rights are both subjected to rights previously owned by others.

4Incorrect usage of “TM” symbol

Under the Common Law Trademark Rights, you get geographically limited protection without getting it registered under the Federal law. The “TM” symbol is commonly considered as “poor man’s” trademark since it is limited to geographical boundaries. If another company files a trademark application to use your trademark, it would succeed in doing so because a “TM” trademark would not provide sufficient protection.

5Not using a distinctive trademark

There are five distinctive trademark categories: arbitrary, descriptive, fanciful, generic and suggestive. The most common ground for rejection of a trademark from the US Patent and Trademark Office is that the proposed trademark is only descriptive. Your company must choose arbitrary, fanciful or suggestive words or phrases that set your brand apart from other products that already exist in the market.

6Choosing the wrong class of Trademarks

A company must choose a trademark that describes the products it sells in detail. Your trademark would then only apply to this particular class of products/services. Also, while it might be tempting to list every product or service imaginable on the application, it is illegal to do so. It is important to remember that owning a trademark in one class does not mean you can enforce it against someone using it in another class of goods.

7Not enforcing Trademark Protection

The USPTO tries to ensure that no one infringes on a company’s trademark. However, it is the eventually the owner of a trademark who is responsible for bringing legal action against an offending party. Companies need to be careful of not letting others infringe upon their trademark since this might lead to costly legal proceedings and result in losing your trademark altogether.

A trademark or service mark is a valuable asset to your business and establishes goodwill with your customers. As the United States Government recognizes 34 classes of goods and 11 classes of services, so your individual trademark has a good chance of making it — but only if you avoid these toxic trademark blunders.

Originally posted 2017-08-08 10:22:31.


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