Your trademark is a result of your hard work - register it now!
One of the essential aspects of any business is brand. Essentially, a company’s brand can be reflected in many ways. This includes intellectual properties such as the logo and symbol, taglines, phrases, words, or any element the market can use to identify a company and its products. And a way business owners can protect their brand’s integrity and ensure no other individual or entity uses it is by registering a trademark.
Registering a business trademark can be a lengthy process, from preparing all requirements and submitting an application to the regulating bodies to getting your approval and certificate of registration. However, the work doesn’t end there, as there are other things business owners should do after registering a trademark.
One of your responsibilities as a business owner is to file declarations or maintenance documents to keep your trademark registration alive. For instance, in the US, filing this document confirms with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that a business is planning on continuing to use its business trademark. This could also be a way to update regulating bodies on possible changes in the registered trademark.
Business owners must make this declaration between the fifth and sixth year after the trademark registration. Ensuring filing these declarations on time is critical, as failure to do so could put the business trademark at risk of consequences, including possible loss of the trademark’s rights, a move you can’t re-instate. Although, note that this timeframe may differ depending on where you are. And so, you must do due diligence and determine what applies to your state.
On the other hand, it’d be good to point out that you can file for a statement of use extension. The success of this extension adds to the period within which you must make your declaration. Furthermore, every ten years upon registration, business owners should also file a renewal of the trademark registration and maintain its rights.
(2) Utilise The Trademark
As you wait for your trademark registration to get approved, you can start using the ‘TM’ mark on your business’s logo or label. While this isn’t legally required, doing so tells other businesses that you’re in the process of registering the design, label, taglines, or any other intellectual property related to your business’s brand.
Once your registration gets approved, you can switch the mark to the circled R. It shows total ownership of the logo or symbol, which you can create with a logo maker. You can apply it to all your operations, be it packaging, marketing, or on your website. And should any brand use the trademarked design, you can take legal action against them.
However, it’s essential to utilise the trademark continuously to maintain its rights and keep your trademark alive. Suppose you don’t use it often and another company adopts it for their business. This can result in their growth, and the public identifies them with the symbol or logo. But, should you take this case to court, and your minimal use of the trademark gets proven, you’ll likely lose your phrase or symbol to the other business, which is undesirable.
(3) Monitor Other Businesses
As previously stated, there’s a possibility of another company using your trademark, although illegally, and they can own it by convincing the court of your lack of use. That said, it’s crucial to be on the lookout to prevent such incidents. Here, you want to monitor other businesses, no matter the niche.
Through monitoring, you can identify a brand or brands utilising your trademark and take action against them as early as possible. With trademarks, it’s good to point out that the infringement of your rights isn’t only tied to a brand that uses the same symbol as your trademarked one. A similar phrase or logo in one way or another that could bring confusion is one you should flag and seek legal action.
With that, you may consider hiring a trademark lawyer. As professionals, they’re better positioned to help you monitor the use of your trademark by other entities. These lawyers know what to look out for that you may miss if you worked independently.
On the other hand, you can also invest in various tools, such as Google alert services. In this approach, Google will alert you of any other company using your trademark symbol or phrase on their websites. You’ll be less likely to miss out on any with this.
(4) Keep Your Records
Keeping records as a business is crucial. They act as a point of reference should there be a need in the future. With this reference, there’ll be fewer conflicts or mistakes that could be catastrophic. In this case, you want to keep records of the entire trademark registration process.
All these records will be beneficial in one way or another. For instance, the regulating body requires you to renew your trademark certification after five years of registration. You might delay the renewal by a day or two without appropriate records. As a result, you’ll likely lose your trademark, making all your previous registration efforts futile. It’d help to set reminders on your calendar.
(5) Register For Border Protection
Business irregularities happen every other day, and you can fall victim to the same. For instance, you trademark your design or logo in your state and acquire all the rights. However, a business from another country decides to use the same logo for its products. They’ll then export their goods for sale. Here, you’ll be less likely to pinpoint such illegality.
However, by registering for border protection with bodies like CBP (Customs and Border Protection,) you can prevent the occurrence of such incidents. The inspection authorities have a trademark recording system and will check if packaging and products in transit are using your trademark. If yes, they’ll stop the export and inform the relevant authorities, you included. You can then take the appropriate action. Here is an interesting guide on copyrights, trademarks, and patents to learn more.
Your trademark is a result of your hard work, from idea development to registration. You wouldn’t want to lose it after all the effort, especially since it can affect your brand and overall business success. This article discusses the things you must do after registering your business trademark to help ensure you protect and enjoy your trademark rights for years to come.
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Zak Austin is a business management master’s graduate who runs a business. Thanks to his passion, he holds regular seminars where he advises small businesses on how to scale and thrive in the business world. During his free time, Zak loves watching live football and cycling in the park.
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