4 minute read
So you’ve decided on a name for your product or brand—Congratulations! That’s no easy feat. Now that that’s done, you may be wondering, what now? Or perhaps you’ve been in business for some time, but never took any steps outside of actually using the brand name to protect it. Many wonder, what proactive & preventative steps can I take to protect & strengthen my brand, while also preventing others from infringing on my intellectual property? Read on to find out what you can do:
[If you aren’t quite here yet & are still brainstorming ideas, check out our blogpost 6 Steps to Selecting an Effective Brand Name with IP Protection in Mind]
1. Run a preliminary search
Hop onto your favorite search engine & run a search on your brand name. Try searching portions of the name in conjunction with buzz words from your industry of choice. For example, if you’re building a company that provides application-based same-day courier services in your city and want to call it DelivrBot (thought of this in 5 secs, lol) get on Google & search portions of the mark (“On-demand courier (your city)” “Delivr same day delivery” “DelivrBot courier” “Bot delivery services” etc.) Make sure someone hasn’t beat you to the exact name, and that nothing out there is confusingly similar. Sticking with a name similar to an already existing business does YOU & your business a disservice. Don’t forget to search social media (#hashtags), too!
A Google (or any generic) search is not thorough enough for trademark clearance, but it’s a start! See #2.
2. Consult with a business development attorney
Before investing in a domain, logo design, federal trademark protections (see below) and more, be sure to consult with a business development attorney to perform a thorough clearance search (Click to check out our blogpost on the clearance process!) and ensure that there are no conflicts out there in any state &/or federal databases. The last thing you want is to purchase your domain, get started on your logo design (or worse, pay for a design you can’t use later…), or order promotional items with your brand name on them, just to find out later on that you’re infringing on another business’ brand name. An attorney can help you to best prepare your brand for intellectual property protection in the future & avoid infringing on the IP rights of others. If you’d like to make an appointment with Yasmine, simply click here!
3. Reserve a domain
Quick, domain names go fast! If you followed number 1 on this list, you’ve probably already realized whether your desired domain is available or not. If it is, reserve that thing! If it isn’t, brainstorm some domain names that would be great alternatives & make the purchase. Even if you think you have a while before building your website, it won’t hurt to have the domain name ready to go for when the time comes. (Plus, you’ll be there before you know it!)
4. Reserve social media handles
Get on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and whatever other social media platforms you think you might use in the course of your marketing. It typically doesn’t cost a cent to create an account, so get to it! Tip: Create a couple of variations if you aren’t sure about the exact handle you’ll want to use.
5. File a trademark registration with the USPTO
Once you’ve decided to move forward with the brand or product name, secure your federal intellectual property rights by applying for a federal registration with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. You don’t have to be using the mark yet, either. There are 2 types of trademark applications: intent to use & in use. This process can take anywhere from 9-18 months, sometimes even longer. It’s best to get the ball rolling as early as possible!
If you aren’t using your mark in commerce just yet, filing an intent to use application with the USPTO can be to your benefit. While you can’t obtain registration until the mark is being used, a pending registration may act as a deterrent for potential infringers looking to use a mark similar to yours.
Some entrepreneurs (in the typical entrepreneurial spirit…) attempt to file their applications with the USPTO themselves to save on costs. While this may sound like a good idea in theory, many times, these same individuals find themselves receiving a rejection or Office Action from the USPTO because of problems with their initial application, which they then end up taking to a professional, resulting in an even more expensive & cumbersome process. While nobody can guarantee registration ultimately, an attorney professional that is familiar with the USPTO, its processes, and more, can possibly help to shorten the length of time it takes & lessen the overall expenses for your company.
6. Begin developing ideas for your brand’s personality
Now that you’re set on your brand name and you’re confident it won’t conflict with anything already in existence, it’s time for the fun part: Start working on that logo + brand! You probably already have an idea of how you want the world & consumers to perceive your business. Get your ideas down on paper & find a designer/branding consultant to help bring it to life!
Many times, intellectual property is a business’ most valuable asset. It’s no matter for cutting corners or using shortcuts… Heads up: there are none! Follow these steps to best set yourself & your business up for airtight intellectual property protection in the future. Taking care of it up front can help you to build a solid legal foundation & save expenses on damage control later on.
Contact YSH Law Firm for more information & to set up a meeting with Yasmine. We like to make things simple: just click here.
To the success of your business,
Keep up with Yasmine on social media! @startuplawyerlady
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice or if you would like to schedule a call with our office in order to best protect yourself & your business, you can book a meeting by clicking here.
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