According to the article “4 Trademark Tips to Protect and Build Your Small Business” by contributor Melissa Thompson on www.inc.com, the public equates your trademark with your brand, so you need to give careful consideration to it when creating it and then protecting it. As such, Thompson offers four tips on how to create and protect your trademark:

  • Create something original. Try to make sure your business’ name is unlike any other on the market, so that it is both easy for customers to distinguish and also for you to protect. Generic and descriptive names are harder to defend, from a legal standpoint, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will reject your application if the trademark is too similar to one that’s already registered. Before finalizing the name of your business, you can use the USPTO Trademark Electronic Search System or a trademark attorney or service to double-check. However, note that the USPTO database does not include unregistered trademarks, so you could potentially face a lawsuit from a business that was first to use the name you chose, even if it hadn’t registered it.
  • Apply for the trademark. After creating a name and/or slogan and double-checking that it has not already been taken, you need to apply for a trademark. Your trademark is industry-specific; as such, you will be asked for a list of goods and/or services that you intend to provide under the brand.
  • Take care of your trademark. You will have to pay renewal fees for your trademark every 10 years, so be sure to do so. In addition, there will also be a renewal to file it after the first five years. Furthermore, on your website and all your marketing materials, be sure to include the proper trademark symbol for each reference to your trademark. Such visible documentation will help you if you are challenged in court.
  • Protect your trademark. The protection granted to you from registering your trademark only happens in court; otherwise, it’s up to you to police the area and the web to locate violations. You can use the USTPO database to watch for others applying for trademarks similar to yours. If you find such a case, a cease-and-desist letter from your lawyer might be enough to get the business to choose a different name. However, if you do have to go to court, many companies will back down from aggressive actions.

Read the original article here.