Sarah Beck, Corporate Counsel
In this day and age, it’s sad to say – but you’ve really got to watch your intellectual property. If you’re wanting to make a splash online, you should really follow a few key points. We’ve had extensive experience with one of our clients facing these kinds of issues and much more.
- Differentiation – Make sure that you can establish a clearly differentiated mark as a trademark. Use color, graphic, and text to establish your mark and help it stand out from others in the marketplace. If you’re a vineyard or a restaurant, consider incorporating objects that meld those elements (wine bottles, grapes, utensils) into your logo.
- Due Diligence – Check out www.uspto.gov to make sure that it’s not already taken. You don’t want to invest your time in something beyond what you are able to secure with a trademark. Trademark infringement lawsuits can be devastating to your business. File the mark as soon as you decide on what it will be. Clearly outline your business not only what you do today, but where your business will be tomorrow. If you’re only creating women’s apparel now, but have plans to launch men’s and children’s, establish your mark with detail stating what the mark will be used for. You can amend it later, but it is important to establish it as soon as possible.
- Don’t bank on gray areas – If you do something that’s similar to another company, you’ll just be setting yourself up for a lawsuit. You may go back to the drawing board a few times, but it’s really worth putting in the time up front rather than legal fees and potentially damages later.
- Web domains – Although it is an additional and sometimes considered unnecessary cost, buy all domains relating to your mark. If you own abc.com, it would be prudent to also purchase abc.net, abc.info, etc. This will thwart competition with designs on defrauding consumers by confusing them by potentially selling competing product or pirated / fake product in your name.
All in all, it’s reall just important to make sure that you do your homework. You can find a good amount of information on trademarks online to educate yourself, but there’s no substitute for good legal guidance. It’s worth the investment up front to avoid the headaches later. Locate a good trademark attorney for more information on how you can safeguard your mark for a profitable and hassle free future.