A trademark is considered intellectual property (IP) and you have legal protection against infringement. In protecting your trademark, you need to operate under both a good offense and defense. When you put a strategy into place during the development process of your trademark, you decrease the chances of competitors stealing your business name, logo or slogan. There are several necessary steps that you should take in order to protect your trademark. This article will address those helpful strategies.
1. Register Your Trademark
The process begins with properly registering your trademark. This beginning step is basically the most essential one because it provides the strongest protection for your intellectual property. Your trademark is then on public display and when properly registered most people will be discouraged from using it without your permission. However, you need to be aware that some unethical individuals may still try to steal your intellectual property and utilize it as their own. There are various additional steps that can be taken to discourage even those unethical people from using it.
2. Display Your Trademark
A second strategy is to publically display your trademark with the appropriate symbol on your website, letterhead and various other marketing materials that you utilize. After registering your trademark with the appropriate governmental agency for your resident country, you can use the ® symbol to show that it is a viable and registered trademark. For those individuals and companies who have a trademark that is not yet registered, they can use the following symbols “™” “SM”. The ® symbol is reserved for trademarks that have been federally registered. The “™” symbol is for common-law trademarks and the “SM” symbol is for common-law servicemarks.
3. Actively Use Your Trademark
It you are not using your trademark, then you increase the chances of infringement. It is vital that you actively use your trademark so that the public quickly identifies it with your specific company. It is important to remember that using your trademark is not simply reserved for companies that actually sell trademarked goods or services to the public. Even simply offering goods or services to the public under your trademark is sufficient. The trademark and appropriate symbol does not have to be utilized everywhere. However, to protect against infringement, it should be displayed prominently in the public eye as much as possible.
4. Choose a Strong Trademark
A fourth strategy to protecting yourself against infringement is to choose a strong trademark. Basically this means that the name, logo and slogan that you use should not be generic. If you utilize generic material, you will have a more difficult time in defending yourself in a potential infringement dispute. When creating your intellectual property, think creatively and strategically create a “suggestive” name that will indirectly point to the unique nature of your company. In a recent Inc.com article they cited several examples of both weak and strong terminology. For example, the term “hamburger” is generic and not protected by a trademark. An example which may be a candidate for trademark, but is rather weak would be “Speedy Bike Messengers”. That example could be very similar to a competitor’s name. The examples that the article cited as strong were “suggestive” names, which indirectly reference the distinctive nature of your company. Those examples are the suntan lotion, Coppertone or Blu-ray for the laser disc player which utilizes blue-violet light. Think outside the box, use your imagination and create something that is unique to your business.
Protecting your company or business against trademark infringement can be made easier by following the four basic strategies as outlined in this article. Begin with registering your trademark or at least utilizing the common-law trademarks and servicemarks. Remember to actively display your trademarks as publicly as possible. When choosing your trademark, think creatively and choose a strong and suggestive one.
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