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Why you should consider Trademarking your Business

Smart business people instinctively understand the benefit of finding a name for their business that has the potential to develop into a brand name. They know that a great business name is a vital element of a strong business brand; and that this brand is a valuable business asset. Protecting that brand is just as important as protecting any other business asset, so after identifying a great business name, a business should consider registering its brand name as a trademark. This trademark registration is often overlooked or ignored – perhaps because the whole area seems complicated and a little confusing.

Trademark: A trademark is quite simply a unique symbol, word, name or phrase that is used to identify and distinguish the product or service of one company from that of another. Because people come to associate attributes and qualities with certain brands, trademarks help prevent confusion or manipulation.
In the context of branding, everyone is familiar with the idea of a logo being a trademark – but symbols, sounds, words and phrases can also be registered, so a business’s name can be a trademark, too.

Benefits of Registration: Any company can try to prevent another business or individual from using its trademark. However, to prevent this passing off, you would need to prove that the trademark is yours, establish that you have built a reputation based on it, and show that your business has been harmed by the other party’s use of it. Not easy. This is where registration comes in. When you formally register a trademark, you can easily take legal action against any business or person that uses it without your permission. And you can also show people that your trademark is registered – and deter them from abusing it  by adding the R symbol. Formally registering this trademark allows a business to legally protect its trademark and its brand.  It’s worth noting that the registering authority  like the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) doesn’t actually enforce the legal protection. It’s entirely up to the trademark’s owner to take legal action if they think their trademark has been misused.

Limits of Registration: There are, as you might expect, some limits as to what business names can be registered as a trademark. A registered trademark obviously can’t use swear words, or be offensive or pornographic. And it can’t be misleading. But perhaps less obviously, it can’t simply describe the product or service; and it can’t be common or non-distinctive in the relevant industry sector. This means that a furniture company can’t register the name ‘Wooden’ as a trademark, and a drinks company can’t register the name refreshing. A generic term like ‘big search engine’ can’t be registered, but a unique name like Google can.

Names registered as Trademarks:  The whole idea behind registration of business names as trademarks is that they should help distinguish one business from any other. The more distinctive your name is, the easier it will be to register. So, although people might feel comfortable with names that use familiar or industry-specific words, they’re not very likely to be approved for registration.

Descriptive names or names that are use generic words are best avoided. Names that are creative, unusual or entirely ‘made-up’ are a much better bet. As are names that are suggestive, rather than literal.

Registering as a Trademark: Applying to register your business name as a trademark is actually a fairly straightforward process. When it comes to registering trademarks, it’s first come, first served. So initially, you should run some quick online checks to make sure that an identical name – or a name that’s very similar – hasn’t already been registered by someone else.  As trademarks can only be registered for a specific state or country, and for specific categories of goods and services, you first need to decide where you need to be protected, and the scope of your business, that is. the categories of product or services in which it is going to be used. You can, though, register the same trademark in more than one category. The cost will vary depending on your country and on the number of categories you want to include. It can become very expensive and complex if you want to protect your trademark internationally, although if you are based in the European Union, registration gained in one country can easily be extended to cover the whole EU, at an additional cost. Once you have decided on your country and categories, you can then use free online resources for your specific area, or pay to use a trademark search specialist. The application process is not guaranteed to be successful – your application will be rejected if the authority finds any names that are the same or similar to your name, in any particular industry category. So take the search for potential conflicts seriously – you could waste time as well as money. If you’re confident that there is no apparent conflict, you can complete your application online. This is a pretty straightforward form-filling exercise that shouldn’t take more than an hour.  When they have received your application, your registering authority will then check to make sure no other trademarks similar to yours currently exist in your chosen categories, and give trademark holders an opportunity to object to your application. This can take a few months. They’ll let you know if your application has been successful and you’ll receive certification to confirm your registration has been granted.

 7 things to keep in mind:

It gives uniqueness to a brand : Consider this, you can register your brand’s Logo as a trademark. Would you want to have a logo that stands out, is easy to remember and is catchy or would you rather go for a logo that is hard to remember or understand and doesn’t describe your brand in any way? The choice would be simple and everyone would go for the former option. It is self-explanatory why you would want that.

Sets a brand apart from the crowd : A trademark should be unique for a brand. Let us take our example of assuming logo as a trademark once again. If your logo is unique, simple basically it has everything mentioned above, then it gives your brand an edge over anyone else. With a logo, anyone can tell which brand does a product belongs to. When you see a silver colour half bitten apple on a laptop or a phone, you know that it is an Apple product.

Protects your product’s name : If you have a registered trademark, you can use it to publically show your ownership over your product. Having a registered trademark will give you a right to use it on all the products registered under your ownership and hence prove that the product belongs to you and you have all the rights to sell, modify or use that product however you want.

Protects your Brand’s name : As mention throughout this article, you should apply for a Trademark. so as to stop anyone else from using it. But, what if there’s another company with the same name as yours? Is there any way to stop it? As a matter of fact, there is. It is widely suggested that you register your brand’s name as your trademark. This way, if anyone else uses the similar name as yours, you can stop them.

Trademarks can be valuable : What if I told you that your trademark can be valuable? Over the time when you business grows, your trademark’s value goes up as well. So, if you and your business is doing great, so is your trademark. Trademark helps your business grow : Let’s say if you have a company that deals in the computers. But, after some successful hard work, you want to expand your company and want to jump in audio hardware business as well. If you’re a nobody, there are high chances that you will fail. But, if you’re a known business and have a known trademark, then people can trust your brand no matter what field you are expanding in. Having a registered trademark can take you places, literally. When you rack up all these points together and put your head to it, you will see that this can drastically help your business get some serious recognition. You will have an open ownership on all the products you make or own. You can literally stamp your trademark on your goods. Yes, that’s allowed. If you still don’t believe in the power of a registered trademark, you should read the “Microsoft vs. MikeRoweSoft” case. It is a hilarious case- but, it shows what a trademark can do for you. The gist of that whole case would be that the software giant Microsoft sued a 12th grade Canadian student because of his website named “mikerowesoft.com”. According to Microsoft, mike’s website phonetically resembled their brand. In the end, a conclusion was reached by both the parties and the case settled down. But, Microsoft was able to get the control of that website with a little compensation and stopped that website and got their brand’s uniqueness bac.

The most important thing to consider when thinking about trademarking is confirming that you won’t be infringing on anyone else’s trademark. In the meantime, let your creative juices start flowing, and get ready to brand your business in a way that no one’s ever seen!

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