Successful brands are known for having unique trademarks that make them stand out from the crowd. These trademarks not only represent the brand’s identity but also encourage the customers to engage with your company. When submitting your trademark application, you must avoid the common mistakes that many business owners make.
This article will look at 6 trademark mistakes you should avoid in order to safeguard your business.
1. Using Generic Trademark Names with a Description of Goods and Services
The key to having a successful trademark is to find a name that will best describe your product or service. Lay’s® Original Potato Crisps, for example, is one of the most widespread trademarks in the world making it recognizable to a large population. The ‘original potato chip’ fragment of the phrase is not trademarked because of its generic use. Whereas ‘Lays’ is a word you wouldn’t normally associate with potato chips making it available for trademarking. It is also good to point out that a word or phrase that has no relation to the product or service is also considered a good marketing idea just because of its originality like, for example, Apple.
2. Assuming That Adding the "TM" Symbol Next to Your Company Name Will Protect it
It is important to make sure that when you use a trademark that is not yet registered by the trademark authority, the symbol ‘™’ should be next to it. By doing so, you are protecting it and informing others that you are using this trademark with intention to register it in the near future. The TM symbol not only implies its use, but it is also an indicator of the geographical area of your business.
Please remember that TM symbol is a form of claiming your ownership but it does not ensure ownership and you will get much more protection of your trademark if you register it with patent authority. It is only once you register this trademark, you can begin to use the ‘®’ symbol next to it.
3. Assuming That Your Trademark Protects All Goods and Services
Trademark protection is divided into categories of goods and services. While a company has a trademark to protect its category, a company that serves in a different category may also use the same trademark so long as it’s different in what the company offers. If a company with similar products does choose the same trademark there would be a conflict, meaning the registration would be dismissed due to the commercial confusion.
In order to ensure that your trademark covers all related categories, think about any goods and services you anticipate offering within the next year, check your promotional and marketing materials if there are any branded items that you would like to obtain protection for and add them to your application. You need to monitor on a regular basis the goods or services that your trademark is protecting because as your business grows and changes‚ so will your trademark requirements.
4. Assuming That Using the “R” Symbol is Legal to Use Immediately
With your trademark, you will also have a symbol representing whether your trademark is registered or not. The symbol you should have if your trademark is registered is the ® symbol. This symbol is used to announce to the world that it is legally owned and not waiting for approval from the Trademark authority. The symbol to use if you are using the trademark without approval from the Trademark authority is “TM”. It is important to distinguish between the two because you have to make sure you are using the correct one to ensure legal entitlement.
5. Remembering Trademark Renewal Dates
Once you have registered your trademark, you should keep on renewing it to protect your trademark rights. It is also a good indicator to the Patent authorities that your trademark is still in use. So, it is essential to be aware of the renewal dates for your trademark. The date of renewal depends on the country, for example, in the EU it is 10 years, in Cyprus – 7, and in the U.S. the first renewal will be 5 years, the second renewal will be 4-9years after your initial registration and should be renewed every 10 years after the second renewal.
Please note that the Patent and Trademark authorities do not send renewal reminders so make sure you keep up to date with the renewal dates to avoid cancelation of your trademark.
6. Not Monitoring Your Trademark
Finally, it is essential to monitor your trademark on a regular basis to check whether your trademark is being used by someone else. Bear in mind that if you have an unregistered trademark and someone else is already using it with the intention of making it official, the one that is more recognizable would stand a better chance of fighting for it.
Please remember, that patent authorities do not provide trademark monitoring or any similar services. Usually, you can monitor status directly through the websites of patent and trademark authorities (e.g Trademark Status and Document Retrieval) at no cost.
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