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It’s not something many business owners think about when they start, but your trademark is a valuable asset of your business. That’s why it’s crucial to create a trademark from the get-go that you know will distinguish you from your competition.
The design, word, phrase, or symbol that you choose needs to be a good trademark. If it’s weak, you could get caught up in legal disputes and have your marketing efforts derailed. So how do you know when you can trademark? Trademark Attorney Jacqui Pryor from Mark My Words Trademarks provides some great advice when it comes to finding opportunities when registering your trademark.
Many brands are assigned nicknames by their customers over time. This could be a shortened version of your company name, a distinctive part of it or even a completely different name. It’s advisable to research the marketplace to confirm these versions of your name so that you can trademark them. This will prevent your competitors from piggybacking on your brand’s reputation to promote their goods or services.
Brand name trademarks
Sometimes consumers recognise a brand name over the name of the product they are using. It’s worth exploring how consumers identify your products and services if you are focusing on branding your products or services instead of advertising them in their current form.
If your business offers franchising, then a good trademark registration is essential. That’s because you, as the owner of a good trademark, are awarded unique rights. These include having the power to register or cancel out other parties as registered users of the trademark. If you are looking to have a high level of control of users of your mark, this is the way to go.
Another benefit is that as the registered owner of a good trademark that the franchisee operates under, you need only provide thirty days of written notice when you want to cancel a licensed user agreement. Disputes between the franchisee and the franchisor can be drawn out and having a good trademark will make you less vulnerable to this occurring.
Having a good trademark is vital if you plan to licence other parties to make use of your company’s reputation to market products and services. You want to retain control of your licensees to preserve your good name in the marketplace. Trademarking your company name will increase your control over your licensees. You have the right to cancel agreements if they don’t maintain the standards you require.
Importer and exporter trademarks
When you secure the rights to market a product in your country, you’ll invest considerable time and money in letting local consumers know about it. As the importer, it’s your responsibility to drive the marketing and establish it in the marketplace. It’s also your responsibility to protect the reputation of the product, and a trademark will give you this peace of mind.
Similarly, if you are exporting, you will need to explore if you need to acquire international registration. This will give customs officials the power to deny the import of products that infringe on your trademarking rights if they are deemed to be contravening the legislation.
Organisations such as professional associations or unions often have a constitution that states how the members are required to behave. This is important to ensure the reputation of that entity is protected. While the association name may not be suitable to trademark, you can trademark the logo. That’s because the logo also represents the standards the members are required to meet to remain a member. In the public’s mind, the trademarked logo represents the quality of the service the organisation, or its members, provide.
Established business trademarks
If you’ve built up a reputation for your goods or services, you are at risk of other market players attempting to piggyback on the goodwill you have earned. If you have not registered your trademark, you have no legal protection from them doing so.
Service company trademarks
Consultants, homebuilders, restaurants, and other service companies often overlook trademarking. This leaves them open to others using their name, or a version of it, to ride on their good reputation.
The entertainment industry is one where trademarking is also often overlooked. If you are a recognised entertainer your caricature, stage name and even signature can be trademarked as they are all elements you will use to market yourself. In this case, you are the product or the brand that needs to be protected.
The names and titles of the works can be trademarked. Publishers are familiar with copyright, but sometimes they fail to consider that a series of articles or software should also be trademarked. This would prevent others from tapping into the reputation of them by using similar names and titles.
Author Bio: Jacqui Pryor established Mark My Words Trademark Services Pty Ltd Jacqui worked as a senior trademark consultant and business manager with other trademark companies for more than a decade.