Trademarks allow business owners to distinguish their product or service from others and make it easy for consumers to recognize their offerings.
Considering how critical this is for a business, avoiding common trademark mistakes can be highly valuable if you are a business owner with creative or unique offerings.
Mistake: Failing to register your trademark
A trademark gives you rights over the use of specific images, words and designs. However, these rights are limited unless you register your trademark.
As this article from the United States Patent and Trademark explains, registering a trademark is not required, but it does have significant benefits. When you register your mark, you make it easier for the public and other businesses to see your trademark and avoid using the same one.
Further, registration makes it easier to file for protection in other countries and take legal action against parties that use your trademark without your permission.
Mistake: Neglecting your trademark
Neglecting a trademark is another common misstep, as people do not always realize they must maintain it.
Maintaining your registered trademark involves:
- Continuing to use it in commerce
- Completing maintenance documents after five years
- Paying the required fees.
Failure to do these things can mean losing your trademark rights.
Mistake: Infringing on someone else’s trademark
Before you start using a logo, design or name for your business, it is crucial to conduct research to ensure you are not infringing on someone else’s trademark.
If you infringe on someone else’s trademark, you may receive a cease-and-desist letter that prohibits you from continuing to sell any goods or services with the trademarked material. This action can result in costly losses stemming from redesigns, repackaging and renaming.
Further, you could face legal action that results in a court order to pay considerable damages.
Mistake: Not monitoring your trademark
Having a trademark does not necessarily stop others from infringing on it, intentionally or accidentally. Thus, holders should monitor their marks. You can do this by running internet searches to look for possible infringement, setting up alerts and checking the USPTO website for similar trademark applications.
Failure to monitor your trademark can increase the likelihood of infringement and potential financial losses.
If you use a trademark in your business, avoiding these mistakes can be crucial in protecting your rights and avoiding messy legal disputes.