Registering trademark is not required under the law. But it is a wise investment. It is in essence a form of “insurance” for your brand. The failure to register trademarks properly and early can create complex situations that are costly distractions, at a minimum. These situations can sometimes suck years and large amounts of dollars out of a company. And failing to protect trademarks can result in a brand that is less valuable as the owner may not be creating a strong a brand as it could otherwise, or it may even be allowing competitors to gain an advantage.
A recent example has been in the news and was featured on the front page of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal: Companies Squawk in ‘Tweet’ Flap – WSJ.com. Twitter was slow to protect “TWEET” and some of its other trademarks. Now it is paying the price.
Twitter has had to file numerous USPTO Opposition and engage in multiple disputes with other parties. Many of these would likely have been avoided if Twitter had been first to file for trademark registration of the relevant terms.
Twitter was launched in the summer of 2006. An application to register TWITTER was not filed until April 2007 – after it had already been a hot topic at the SXSW conference that spring and had already been featured in Newsweek magazine. An application to register TWEET was not filed until April 2009, nearly 3 years later.
Tip: If you dream that your company will be something big – and will be the envy of others – than how you can justify NOT spending a few thousand dollars to protect your trademarks at the first moment possible?
Twitter has filed at least seven Opposition proceedings at the USPTO [click link of contested trademark for TTAB records]:
The failure to fully and early register the trademarks also has created additional delays and costs in trying to register the trademarks later. Which feeds into the dispute problems at a catch-22 situation. A proactive trademark strategy from the start would no doubt have save Twitter huge amounts of money and many needless headaches.
5 years of Twitter: A case of mismanaged trademarks (IPelton blog)
- Erik Pelton on Twitter: twitter.com/tm4smallbiz