Protecting Your Company’s Brand Through Trademarks
Protecting your company’s trademarks is important to grow your brand and prevent other companies from trading off your hard-earned goodwill. Below are a few things to keep in mind when creating and protecting trademarks.
Choosing a Trademark
There are a number of considerations when choosing your company’s trademark. Among other things, you should:
- Make sure that your mark will not infringe on an existing mark. Your trademark could infringe another trademark because it is spelled the same, looks the same, or even sounds the same.
- Consider choosing a more “distinctive” mark to receive a higher level of protection. While marks that are descriptive of your goods or services may be desirable from a marketing perspective, they can be harder to protect as trademarks.
- Make sure that the domain name is available for purchase. Even if the trademark has not been registered, the domain name may be in use by another company.
The best trademark protection comes from registering the mark. Where you register will depend on where the trademark is used.
- If the trademark is used for goods sent across state lines or services that affect interstate commerce, a federally registered trademark would provide the most complete protection.
- If the trademark will only be used within one state, state trademark registration may be a simpler alternative to consider.
Keep in mind that just because your company is registered with your state’s Secretary of State or because you have registered a fictitious name does not mean your trademark is automatically registered.
Once a trademark application has been filed and the mark has been registered, you must have a plan in place to police your brand to make sure that others are not infringing it. If someone is infringing your trademark, this could lead to a loss of business or could affect your company’s reputation and its ability to fully protect its trademark.
As your company evolves, so must your trademarks. As you create new products and services or expand the area of your business, you may want to create new trademarks or file existing trademarks in new jurisdictions.
These are just a handful of items to keep in mind for creating and protecting your company’s trademarks. Other forms of intellectual property protection for your company may also be available through copyright and trade secret protection.