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What’s in a Name?

Posted by on Dec 3, 2013 | 0 comments

Trademarks: One of a Small Business’s Greatest Assets One of a small business’s greatest assets is its brand. Business owners invest a significant amount of time and money in their name and advertising, but too often they neglect necessary legal protections for their name, logo or slogan. Your name and brand must be protected by taking the critical step of registering it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Many small business owners mistakenly believe that they do not need to register for a trademark, because they have rights to the mark simply by registering the business with the state — which is a major problem when another company decides to register the same or similar name with the USPTO! Once another company registers their mark that is similar to yours, they will likely send you a “Cease and Desist” letter, warning you to stop using your mark or business name because you are now in violation of their federally registered trademark. Once this happens, you may be mired in litigation and expensive legal fees for years. Unfortunately, this is a situation where the party with the deepest pockets, not necessarily the strongest argument, is likely to win. Big companies employ attorneys whose sole job it is to search for and put a stop to small businesses with a similar mark. Even though the other company registered for the mark after you began to use yours or is in another state — their rights may have priority because they registered with USPTO first. In the alternative, what if you were to find that someone was using your unregistered mark, and you want to stop them? For example, say that another company used your unregistered mark, “Little Black Dress”, which you use for your clothing company, for a slightly racier business? Customers who look you up online might become confused, and they might call the wrong number only to be shocked at your supposed line of business. Because you never registered your mark, you have very little recourse. Finally, it is rare that a client can successfully register a trademark without legal assistance. We counsel many clients who have tried to register a trademark on their own to save money, and ended up spending twice as much on legal fees for an appeal because the USPTO rejected their application. When applications are denied, the filing fee is not refunded and an appeal is much more costly. It is in your own financial interest to hire a lawyer to help with your trademark search and application from Day 1. A mark is one of the most valuable assets a small business has. Don’t make the mistake of jeopardizing yours. If you are interested in registering a trademark for your business, contact us for a free initial phone consultation by sending a quick email to Office@thegellerlawgroup.com. Trademark Protection Program Did...

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