Leaving A Lasting Impression
Every entrepreneur wants their customers to remember who they are, how to find them again and how to distil their experience into a phrase, logo or feeling so they can tell friends and family. In the information-overloaded daily grind of life, entrepreneurs can put handles on their goods and services by using trademarks and branding.
According to Claire Mitchell, and attorney with Stole Rives, choosing a distinctive trademark is fundamental to starting a business. Trademarks need not be registered to distinguish your products from the competition. That protection is activated the first time it’s used. However, there are a few caveats.
- wherever it’s used, the spelling must match the original
- the color and font must also match
- identify it by using a superscripted TM at the end
- it cannot have been used by someone else first
In Mitchell’s 2016 BTE Bootcamp™ session she recommended searching before selecting or using a trademark. You can “Google It”, use the Trademark Electronic Searching System (TESS) or hire a paralegal or attorney to parse the search results. Because trademarks can be in various stages of usage or registration, a novice may miss or misinterpret the availability of their choice with potentially dire consequences.
Monitoring how your trademark is being used can be as simple as setting up a “Google Alert” or checking domain name registrations. If you determine your trademark is being used without your authorization, in most cases a simple “cease and desist” letter from you is generally enough to end the matter. If not, you will need the services of a trademark attorney. It could take more time than you expect and once again, “time is money”.