The following is a transcript of my video Big Businesses Need Trademark Protection; Small Businesses Need It Even More.
Over the last 20 years, I have been so incredibly blessed to work with thousands of small businesses. The vast majority of my clients have been small businesses. Some of them family—literally family-run—including my own family’s restaurant businesses.
Small businesses are in many ways the lifeblood of communities in America. In towns everywhere places like the barber shop, the delicatessen, the coffee shop, hardware store, florist … these are the small businesses that make communities unique, give them character, and really connect the webs of the community.
I’ve also been blessed to work with many big companies over the years – international companies and businesses with hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. There’s different approaches in handling different-sized clients like that, of course. And I’m grateful for both experiences.
The lesson from all of this is that all businesses need trademark protection. Of course, big businesses benefit from trademark protection. Registering, protecting their brand, using the ®, and being in the USPTO’s Register of Trademarks. Brands like Nike, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple all know this. They file dozens, if not hundreds, of trademark filings every year. But small businesses need trademark protection and trademark registration even more than big businesses. There’s a couple of reasons why.
The first is that when you have a trademark registration, the USPTO does a lot of work for you. You appear in their database. People are searching that database all the time, 24 hours a day. And USPTO examiners are searching that database for potential conflicts all the time. Being in the database lets your trademark do the work for you, and might block others automatically, without you having to lift a finger or spend another dollar.
Another reason that protection is so important for small businesses is the cost of a dispute. Not just the financial cost, but the time and emotional toll and costs can be very significant. They can crush small businesses. I’ve seen it unfortunately happen.
Sometimes small businesses are faced with a trademark dispute, where even though they have very good odds in the dispute—sometimes it doesn’t make sense to fight it. And they have to change their name, or they have to consider alternatives. Having a trademark registration helps reduce the odds of such disputes. And it puts the business owners in better a position for such disputes if they arise.
So you tie this together and the it comes to this: Having a trademark registration is like insurance for your brand. It helps avoid and deal with the troubling consequences that can arise from brand infringement. From people copying and infringing your brand, and for being on the receiving end of possible infringement claims.
That insurance is extremely valuable to any business, but it’s much more valuable to a small business. And the price of that insurance? Yes, it’s not insignificant, it’s not nothing. But it’s also not tremendous. And the return on the investment is far greater than the expense. It is extremely valuable for small businesses to protect their trademarks for these reasons.