A trademark is one of your business’s most valuable assets. Not only do trademarks represent your brand and help it be easily identifiable by your target audience. Your business’ trademark distinguishes you from the competition and protects against counterfeit products and sellers.
Read on for four strategies your brand should adopt to prevent trademark infringement.
1. Pick a solid trademark from the start
A trademark is your target audience’s first touch point with your business. To prevent trademark infringement, you must ensure the process of choosing a solid mark is well thought out from the beginning. Below are the general categories you could derive your brand’s trademark.
- Generic trademarks. A generic trademark depicts general products and services provided. An excellent example of a generic trademark is “Television” for a TV brand. Generic trademarks do not qualify for registration because registering such a mark could prohibit other companies from producing the same products or services.
- Suggestive. A suggestive trademark suggests or hints at the nature of the brand’s services or products.
- Descriptive trademarks. As the name suggests, a descriptive trademark describes or identifies a product’s characteristics.
- Fanciful marks. A fanciful trademark provides the strongest protection. The names are solely invented for trademark purposes only and do not relate to the company’s services or products. An excellent example is Nike and KODAK.
- Arbitrary. An arbitrary trademark comprises common words and phrases unrelated to the products or services.
Arbitrary and fanciful trademarks provide more protection against infringement. However, you must invest more time and money in advertising and marketing to promote audience recognition.
2. Conduct a comprehensive trademark search
Once you identify an ideal trademark for your brand, it is critical to complete a trademark search before signing up for federal trademark protection. A trademark search helps you establish whether or not another company is already using your mark. Without a trademark search, you increase the chances of your application being rejected, not to mention the likelihood of rebranding your company in the future.
Be sure to hire an experienced trademark attorney to help you complete your search. Trademark attorneys are familiar with trademark rules and regulations and have appropriate search tools to conduct a more sophisticated trademark search and prevent your brand from infringing on other businesses.
3. Register your mark
If your trademark attorney establishes that there are no issues with your mark, you should file your trademark application with USPTO or United States Patent and Trademark Office. Ensure you specify all the products and services you intend to provide under your trademark. Remember to be accurate when listing the products and services. The trademark laws will only protect what you list on your application.
4. Monitor your trademark
Although the USPTO will register your mark, it does not enforce the trademark’s exclusivity. You must actively monitor your trademark to prevent other companies from using it. Below are ways to monitor your brand:
- Use ®, the registered mark symbol
- Monitor the United States Patent and Trademark Office filings and bar registration of marks similar to yours
- Issue “cease and desist” letters or file lawsuits against businesses using your mark.
Protecting your trademark is critical to standing out from the competition and ensuring an excellent business reputation. Be sure to choose a solid mark from the start, complete a comprehensive search, and register and monitor your mark to protect against trademark infringement.