A recent piece in Forbes Woman discusses the difficult situation business owners who do not properly clear and protect their trademark may face – paying lawyers to defend a trademark case that might not be successful vs. spending money to re-brand and the hurdles of letting go of your original name and communicating the change to customers. The article does a nice job describing the considerations and using some real world examples.
Of course, many allegations of infringement are worth defending. But sometimes, even if the legal defense is fairly strong, defending the case may not be the best business decision.
The author, Kelly Watson, notes an interesting twist on trademark infringement situations that I have also found to be true quite often:
Surprisingly, many of the people I spoke to who faced potential trademark infringement litigation saw the experience as a blessing in disguise.
“Once I found a new name and rebranded myself, it felt like a breath of fresh air,” Hatcher says. “I felt reborn and recommitted to my business. And of course one of the first things I did was register the business name.”
I, too, felt surprisingly positive about the situation once several months had passed. My new business name was even better than the old, but I would have never rebranded had I not been threatened with a lawsuit. It would have been too much work.
Tip: If the name you have chosen is not distinctive, is not protectable, and does not communicate a message to your potential customers, you may be far better off re-branding with a new better name instead of sinking money into defending the old one.