Let us paint a picture for you. You’re the owner of Danny’s Delightful Donuts and you’ve been in business for 15 years. You’ve dedicated your life to building this brand and have so much to show for it. Even your tag line is recognizable by those who shop at your company. It’s finally started to pay off and suddenly, a lawsuit has been filed against you. Daniel, a 19- year old Sophomore in college has decided to register a trade name for his dessert food truck….Danny’s Delightful Donuts®. Now, you’ll have to go through a lengthy and expensive legal process, only to possibly have to change your name, anyway! Young Danny has a registered trademark and you don’t. You’re stuck! All that hard work building a brand image for yourself and for what? Changing your name at this stage in the game can be detrimental.
Thankfully, the AMANIAC® name, logo, and tag line, ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT YOUR BRAND®, are registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office so we’re protected, but are you? After lots of research, we’ve gathered the top reasons why you should register your trademark:
1. Federal and State Protection: Once registered, your trademark is protected by both federal and state law against others infringing upon use of the name. This means if a business in the US tries to use your trademark or one that causes “likelihood of confusion” in similarities, then by law, they must stop using it.
2. Avoid Infringing on Another’s Trademark: The opposite is also true. Registering a trademark can protect you if you are accused of infringing on someone else’s trademark. Trademarks are public knowledge and a federally registered trademark carries with it a presumption of validity. Taking the simple extra step in checking that your idea is un-used could save you lots of money in the advertising and marketing process, attorney fees, damages, fines, and liability.
3. Loss in Customers: Having a small business and building that brand from the ground, is hard work. Imagine everyone knowing your business and building trust and a reputation with your consumers, then suddenly, having to drop the name and change all your online advertising and marketing sources. This could be damaging, especially to a smaller, perhaps local business, causing a major loss in customers and revenue.
4. It’s Yours: Having a trademark makes that name, symbol, sign, design, or expression exclusively yours. No one else is allowed to use it, much less advertise with it for personal gain, without the potential for major consequences. Under the Lanham Act, trademark damages mainly focus on injunctive relief, where the court commands or prohibits an action based on what is in question, but can also involve monetary damages. Additionally, other forms of intellectual property infringement such as copyright infringement, can be even more costly with damages for each work infringed ranging between $200 and $150,000 and in some cases, you can recover their profits, your lost profits, and even your attorney’s fees. Yikes!
5. Increase Your Visibility: As a brand, your image is priceless. Protecting that image to the best of your ability is one of your duties as a business owner. A registered trademark makes you more identifiable and searchable. It also creates a seamless organization in your online presence, allowing you to effectively reach consumers via social media, your website, online listings, etc. For instance, if you search for a local business with a common name on Facebook, chances are, several pages with the same name are going to pop up in your query. You’re not sure which one is the right one, so you put the name into Google and now three more companies pop up. The entire process becomes frustrating and unnecessarily complicated for the consumer. If the business in question would’ve registered their trade name and logo, finding them would’ve been much easier because 1. No other business in the country is legally allowed to have the same name; you are protected across all platforms and 2. a distinguishing mark would’ve made your business stand out in that search. Essentially, you’re increasing your online search ability.
6. Expiration: If you’re not yet convinced making it official with a trademark is for you, remember it’s a one-time purchase. There are additional time intervals where you’ll need to submit forms for regular maintenance of your trademark (more information on that available here), but as long as your trademark is in use for US commerce purposes, you only have to file an Application for Renewal after ten years. Many huge brands like Nike, Ben and Jerry’s, and McDonald’s, started off as small mom-and-pop shops with the potential to grow. They were able to build a brand for themselves when they were small, and part of their success is due to seamless brand images with registered trade names, slogans, and logos that have been protected for decades.
7. Practicality: Besides being legal, trademarks encourage business owners to avoid accidental or purposeful future mishaps, with how practical they are. It’s really easy to use a search engine to see if a trademark is registered. The simplicity of this avoids problems later. Not to mention in lieu of big lawsuits and associated damages and fees, many law firms are able to file something with major Internet companies like Facebook or Google, when they see someone is infringing on your trademark on their platform. It is a much simpler process and the corresponding company will usually review it appropriately and handle accordingly.
8. Value: Registered trademarks become valuable assets for your company. Like other forms of property, trademarks can be sold or licensed. Many companies license their trademarks as an additional revenue stream, and a healthy trademark portfolio is vital to increasing the valuation of a company’s assets.
Remember that your trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets are all part of your intellectual property, which essentially, are some of your company’s most valuable assets, so make sure you stay protected! If you’re not sure how to get started with your registered trademark, contact Trueba & Suarez, PLLC. They have been protecting businesses with US patents and trademark law for many years, including Amaniac® Design! As US patent attorney Roberto M. Suárez from Trueba & Suárez PLLC recommends, protecting your brand not only gives your business a competitive edge, but it “builds brand awareness and loyalty among consumers and establishes protectable legal interests in the goods and services sold by the company and the technology and know-how used to produce them.”
**Please note, we are not attorneys. To seek legal advice, contact an attorney.