Every day I hear from business owners with questions about their trademarks; and there are three common misunderstandings that I have to address all of the time.
- The first is that you don’t need a trademark registration. Well, technically that’s true. There is no requirement under the law that you register your trademark, but without a trademark registration you’re missing out on a huge value. Trademark registration means that you’re going to show up in the public databases when others are searching. It means that the US Patent & Trademark Office will actually do some of the work for you in helping avoid conflicts when others apply. And, having a trademark registration allows you to use the R with a circle – ® – and creates a tangible asset for your business.
- A second common misunderstanding is that you do not need a lawyer to register a trademark. Well again, technically that’s correct. But those who apply without a lawyer often end up spending more money in the long run to fix their problems because the application process has many pitfalls and obstacles. And an improper application can not only lose your filing fee with the patent and trademark office, but can actually harm the protection of your trademark if it’s not done properly. So using a lawyer provides a great value.\
- The third common misunderstanding that I hear frequently is that your name must be unique to protect it and register it. That is not entirely correct either because a name really needs to be unique in an industry or field to be a strong trademark and to be registered; it does not generally need to be unique in the entire universe. For example, there’s a Peter Pan Bus Lines and a Peter Pan Peanut Butter. The name Apple for computers is a well-known brand name, but there are actually many other brands that have the name Apple in their name that aren’t in the computer industry. Actually, Apple Records, which was made famous by The Beatles is a well known example there.
So if you have trademark questions or other misunderstandings to clear up, contact me and let’s sort them out.