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Maintaining your company’s intellectual property is essential; here are the benefits of conducting a comprehensive trademark search.
Most businesses and entrepreneurs put considerable effort into finding the right trademark or service-mark for their company. It makes sense — it’s the symbol or phrase that people will associate with a company’s brand.
As a business owner, you want to make sure the trademark represents your company and its values. You want to make sure it reminds potential customers of your business right away.
You definitely want to make sure no one’s already using it.
Unfortunately, many businesses don’t put enough effort into doing research into marks that are already in use by other companies, leading to legal headaches down the road which can be expensive and jeopardize your brand.
Here are five reasons why getting an experienced intellectual property attorney to conduct a comprehensive trademark search is a worthwhile investment that could save your business in the long run.
It’s best left to the experts
Researching, registering and protecting a mark involves more than simply conducting a trademark search on the USPTO website.
Getting an experienced trademark attorney to conduct your search is the best way to ensure nothing gets overlooked and you’re not forced to change your trademark or defend it in court down the road.
The USPTO recommends it:
In fact, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office itself says hiring an intellectual property attorney to help with the search is a good idea.
From the USPTO document Protecting Your Trademark
Be aware that any searches you conduct on TESS are limited to the USPTO’s database of federal trademark applications and registrations and do not include the marks of other parties who may have trademark rights but no federal registration. In the United States, parties are not required to register their marks to obtain protect-able rights. Therefore, you should seriously consider whether to hire a trademark attorney to assist you with a ‘full’ or “comprehensive” trademark search.”
Areas where a business attorney will have more success include state registrations and “common law” registrations that aren’t registered in a centralized location such as the USPTO.
It helps covers your legal bases
Not only will hiring an experienced patent attorney to conduct the search identify potential conflicts with the trademark you wish to register, it goes a long way in establishing your legal claim to the property. An expert attorney will be able to tell you how easy it will be to defend your claim to the trademark and establish a good-faith basis covering your intention to protect the trademark.
The old adage that you only have one chance to make a first impression rings true
Consumers have notoriously short attention spans these days. Consumers often can’t be bothered to read the entire subject line of an email, let alone keep track of the rebranding efforts of a business that is legally forced to change its name or identifying symbol.
Once you establish recognition with a customer, you can’t afford to lose it.
In the digital age, there is also a much larger potential for the overlap in brands. Things like social media hash-tags, internet addresses, and being one click away from similarly named companies on different sides of the world can all lead to the potential for customers to confuse companies if the branding is too similar.
Re-branding is more expensive than ever
In the past, if legal issues forced you to change your trademark, there were only a handful of places you had to work to re-brand yourself. If you had a storefront, people still knew about the location even if the name of the business changed. At an extreme perhaps you had to update your entries in the phone-book or local business directories.
Now think of all the places a trademark could be used for marketing purposes these days — especially online. It’s hard enough for companies to secure a domain name, not to mention social media usernames and handles, email addresses and a host of other ways customers can interact with your brand online.
If you are forced to change your branding down the road, it’s going to cost time and money to get the word out about your new trademark.
A worthwhile investment up front
Hiring an experienced intellectual property attorney to conduct a comprehensive trademark search is an expense too many businesses decide to bypass, at great risk to their recognition and potential customer base. With the right team, you can identify potential issues with your trademark before you file the application, which can save a lot of time and money in legal battles and rebranding efforts.
About the Author:
Luke Marchie is the Marketing Manager for Maselli Warren PC, a full-service law firm that represents businesses and business owners in Pennsylvania.