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A trademark is used to differentiate the goods and services you are offering from other businesses. A name and a logo for our business, brand or product will establish a visual relation with the audience. They need to perfectly and concisely reflect your targeted market niche and should be unique enough to distinguish you from the competition. So, the big question we need to ask ourselves is: “When is it the right time to file a trademark application?” Should it be done before the product or service is launched? Or should we just wait for everything to be launched to start the process? The answer is that in most cases, it is best to for a business to lock it up as soon as possible. We will go over the most important aspects of acquiring a trademark.
1. Are you eligible?
There are several mandatory issues we have to deal with, in order for our brand, logo or name to be eligible. The following stands for either current or future commercial use. If you are planning on trademarking a brand, the products sold under it need to have the label on them. That is, the packaging needs to be clearly labeled with the unique logo in question. If we are talking about services, the trademark needs to be advertised in some way, shape or form. Marketing and advertising materials come in various forms and sizes. If we have already started using the name or logo, we need to specify the date. And if we plan on using them in the future, it must also be noted on the application. It is important to gather all the necessary information on eligibility in relation to your desired trademark. In the United Stated, a trademark requires the “goodwill” associated with it. In Australia, it is possible to apply for a trademark without the goodwill of the business. Along with a patent application, processing can be very time-consuming, it costs money. For these reasons and more, you do not want to waste your time and effort on an ineligible idea. Read the rules, inform yourself and you will understand the prerequisites for your application to be valid.
2. The costs involved
The short answer is that it depends. The cost of applying can vary on the type of protection you would like to acquire. Material goods and services are all grouped together in classes. For example, tools, power tools, protective gear all fall under construction equipment, but computers fall under a different one. The more classes your product or service falls under, the more it will cost to apply for a trademark. Another factor to incorporate into our calculus is time. Basically, the longer you want the international protection for your brand, product or service the more expensive the application. Trademarks are territorial. For example, if you apply in the US, it will not be protected in Australia. You will need to apply for every country you want your trademark in, individually, and repeat the process. In the US, a signed Power of Attorney document is mandatory. In Australia, this is not required. This step comes down to calculating all the expenses you may have to take care of. With managing a trademark comes great responsibility and we should be aware of all the factors.
3. Trademark search
It is mandatory for your trademark to be unique. Applying will run it through a comprehensive name and trademark search. You can even do this yourself. Run a search through your country’s trademarks search system (for example, in United States, you can do that via United States patent and trademark office and make sure that what you have in mind is available. On the other hand, in Australia, some people tend to take an advice and consult with trademark attorneys who perform trademark search for them so you can always opt for that solution, as well.
4. The follow-up
Now we have our trademarks registered, what next? From now on, we are responsible for enforcing our trademarks to make sure it is protected. This means acting if any unauthorized adoption or copying is taking place. The local government will ensure that no one registers your trademarked name or logo. But even then, it is your obligation to protect the rights to your intellectual property if anyone tries to use it. There are usually two courses of action if a situation like that takes place. You can send a cease and desist letter or file a trademark infringement lawsuit. Alternatively, you can always sell rights to your trademarked assets for others to use in ways deemed appropriate by you. Always consult experts whether internally or by hiring outside help. The feasibility of such an action is a complicated matter and one demanding of careful study.
Our business is our livelihood and often something we have put our blood, sweat, and tears into. Most likely, many sacrifices had to be made to reach this point. Which makes our responsibility towards us and our closest ones to protect the intellectual property we created. By applying for a trademark, we reduce the legal risks of using someone else’s name. But most importantly, we protect our own brands, products, and services for the future.
Bio: David Koller is a passionate blogger and copywriter for Media Gurus, mainly interested in SEO and Digital Marketing.