No matter what area of business you work in, staying ahead of the competition is key to success. If you can offer something to consumers that none of your competitors can, you’re on a definite path to growth.
If you’ve come up with something valuable, the last thing you want is someone copying your idea. To prevent this, you need to get your idea trademarked.
Like any other legal process, this has the potential to be complex. If you want to get something trademarked, you should enlist the help of a trademark lawyer.
Trademark lawyers have important functions in many different areas of business. We’ve looked at five of their most important roles here.
1. Instructing You on What Can Be Trademarked
Trademarking isn’t as simple as indicating that you’d like your brand to be protected. Not everything is suitable for trademarking.
Trademarks serve to protect any kind of branding content that is specific to a single entity. That might be a brand name, a slogan, a logo, a jingle, or anything else of this nature that belongs to your firm.
Once your lawyer confirms that what you want to trademark is suitable, the next step is to ensure that no one else has trademarked something too similar to it in the past. If a brand similar to yours has secured a trademark already, you may have to modify yours to make sure it’s accepted.
2. Helping You File Your Trademark Application
Once you’re confident that you’ll be able to go ahead with trademarking, you’ll need to fill out a series of official documents. The detail required here can be very extensive, so it’s always a good idea to enlist the help of a lawyer for the process.
You must submit these documents to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This is the government body that oversees all trademarking and patent issues. They will decide whether your application succeeds or not.
If there are any issues with an application you’ve submitted, the lawyers can help you with the trademark rejection response. This official document details the problems with your application and how to rectify them.
Often, these fixes will relate to technical legal issues and will be easy to address. However, it’s important to expedite this process by having your lawyer present. Without expert legal help, it’s too easy to get caught up in the jargon of the application documents, wasting valuable time.
3. Dealing With International Trademark Requirements
Trademark issues adopt another level of complexity when they involve foreign entities. A trademark that protects your brand in America won’t automatically restrict companies in other countries.
This wasn’t as much of an issue in the past as it is today. Because of our globalized marketplace and the amount of trade that takes place online, it is important for many companies to have a recognizable brand across the world.
Therefore, international trademarking is now a huge part of this area of the law. There are a few different ways to secure trademarks over your brand in more than one country.
One way is to apply for a separate trademark in every country in which you want to do business. This can be quite arduous, so it’s only a practical option for companies who only want a trademark in one or two countries outside the US.
Alternatively, you can apply for an international trademark. Under the Madrid System, 122 participating countries recognize a standard international trademark.
When applying for this type of trademark, you must nominate the countries in which you want your brand to have protection. Different countries have different application fees, but the more countries you want to have protection in, the more your application will cost.
For trademark protection across the European Union, you can apply for a single Community Trademark.
4. Addressing Any Legal Challenges to Your Trademark
Before you get a valid legal trademark, the court will publish your application so that third parties can oppose it. If what you’re trying to trademark is too close in nature to something that someone else has trademarked, they may be able to block your application.
A dispute like this can end up in court. If a judge rules that the opposition to your trademark is justified, they will set your application aside. You may also have to change elements of your branding if they resemble someone else’s too closely.
To ensure that this doesn’t happen, you need your trademark lawyer at your side in court.
5. Mounting Legal Challenges When Someone Copies Your Brand
The point of a trademark is to prevent competitors (or anyone else) from using your brand to further their business interests. However, a trademark alone can’t prevent this from happening.
Another company might decide to risk using your trademarked brand in the hope that you won’t notice, or that you won’t go to the trouble of challenging them even if you do notice. Someone might also end up using trademarked material simply because they were unaware it was trademarked.
In scenarios like these, you need your trademark lawyer on hand to protect your interests. They can send a cease-and-desist letter to the offending party, and bring them to court if necessary.
Protecting Your Interests With a Trademark Specialist
Providing something unique is an increasingly difficult thing to do in today’s world. If you come up with something that’s recognizable and has an association with high quality, you need to do everything you can to make sure that you reap all the benefits of it.
By getting a trademark lawyer on your side, you’ll be making sure that you enjoy the fruits of your labor, rather than your competitors.
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