Trademark protection costs money. Clearing a name properly involves a paid search. A USPTO application filing costs filing fees and attorney fees. Sending cease and desist letters cost money. Renewing a trademark registration costs money.
But each of these items is generally a few hundred dollars or may be bit more. Sure, that is expensive to a startup or small business. (I know, I was once a start up and I am still a small business today.)
Yet the alternatives are far costlier.
- A weak brand name is very costly. It is not easy to build a strong valuable brand on a weak foundation.
- Trademark disputes are very costly. Attorneys, court fees, stress, time, and much more are all needed to fending off a trademark dispute. Even a successful outcome may be very costly.
- Re-branding is very costly. New signs, website, domain name, explanations to customers, lost goodwill, and much more can result from re-branding.
Up front trademark protection costs some money, but it is likely to save far more than it costs over the lifetime of a successful business. Proper trademark clearance and registration greatly reduces the risks of disputes and re-branding. And proper trademark counsel and protect reduces the odds of a weak brand name.
Instead of asking whether they can afford the costs of trademark protection, small businesses should ask whether they can afford not to protect their trademarks.
The peace of mind that a trademark registration provides – knowing that you have done everything possible to protect your brand and to minimize the risks that it could be taken from you or copied by someone else – is priceless.