The following is a transcript of one of my podcast episodes from Tricks of the Trade(mark). To listen, see here.
Over the years, I must have spoken to and worked for hundreds of clients who were just launching a new business idea. Regardless of the economy’s state and what’s going on in the world, there are always new businesses being started. In fact, in a downturn or recession, we often see many new successful businesses being launched that are capitalizing on or taking advantage of the changing world and circumstances around us.
Here are three key steps that anyone can take if starting a business right now.
- The first is the most important, do a comprehensive search for the name before you commit to it, before you do anything, before you launch. If you look at my other materials, I’ve written and spoken in depth, I encourage you to look at those, about what a comprehensive trademark search is and why it’s valuable, but you want to make sure that everything you build around this brand is on a solid foundation. That’s the value of doing a comprehensive search, to make sure the name is not just hasn’t been registered in your field of products or services, but that no one else is using a confusingly similar name in your field prior to you.
- Assuming you’ve now cleared the name, the second step you want to do is file with the USPTO to register the name as quickly as possible. There’s two reasons: one is that process takes a long time so it’s always better to start it as soon as possible; but the second and more important reason is that your protection will start in many ways as soon as you file the application because you can file based on an intent-to-use the name in commerce and you don’t have to wait until there are any sales. You don’t have to wait until you have a product, or until you have a website, or until you have a paying customer. You can file the trademark application first based on the intent to use and that way you actually start getting protection the moment the application is filed. Because if you don’t file that way, you may not have any protection until you’re actually making any sales and until you fully launched the brand and you therefore are at risk until that happens.
- The third key step if you’re starting a business right now, to protect your brand, is to make sure you use the trademark properly. That means make sure that the brand name stands out, whether it’s in bold, or italics, or a logo, or a different color. Use it in a manner that jumps out so people know that what you’re talking about here isn’t just any word, it’s a special word or a special phrase that is your brand name. And you want to make sure that you’re using the proper trademark symbol to go with it. You don’t have to wait for a registration. You don’t even have to wait for an application to use TM or SM. Again, check out my other resources at erikpelton.com about how to properly use a trademark and you’ll see all videos and articles discussing that.
To summarize: do a full search, file trademark application ASAP, and use the trademark properly. If you are starting a business and you’d like to discuss working with me to help guide you through the process, contact me here.