Starting a successful business is a joy for most investors. However, achieving this is easier said than done, especially for startups. Part of creating your brand is developing an image for your product, service, or company that differentiates you from your competitors—making it easy for your customers to identify your business.
After developing a brand, it is important to protect the uniqueness of your company, products, or services, ensuring you maintain a competitive advantage. You can realize this by registering a trademark.
Registering a trademark can be challenging, especially if you’re a newbie. The good news is that the following article outlines what you need to know about trademark registration. You’ll learn what a trademark is, how to register it, and more.
What’s A Trademark?
Trademarks are a type of intellectual property (IP) used for commercial purposes only. As a business owner, you should file your Trademark Statement of Use. So, what is a Trademark Statement of Use? It’s a verification method for your trademark registry, proving your trademark is used for commerce.
Trademarks include unique logos, slogans, and images that identify your startup business. This will make it easier for the target audience to identify your company from a pool of various brands.
Trademarks are highly valuable business assets that can differentiate your business from others. On the other hand, trademark registration refers to legally acquiring the right to use the brand IP. Registering your trademark help protect your brand from knockoffs and copycat.
The cost of registering a trademark will vary, with some brands spending millions of dollars to protect their IP and maintain an upper hand in this competitive industry that they are in.
How To Register A Trademark
Registering a trademark can be daunting, especially if you don’t have the necessary skills and know-how. However, the following is a step-by-step guide to help simplify the process of registering a trademark. It includes:
1. Create A Strong Mark
The first step of registering a trademark is coming up with the mark itself. When creating a mark, it’s important to ensure it meets the following requirements:
- Uniqueness: The mark should be coined in such a way that it’s unlike anything else. Hence, avoiding geographical names, common personal names, and more is important.
- Distinctive: This is another requirement you should meet when creating your trademark. The mark should contain a feature that describes and identify your goods and services; hence it’ll be easier to differentiate them from others.
- Honest: The mark should portray the correct characteristics of your goods or services. If the mark conveys a false message about a product or message, the application might be denied on the ground of being deceptive.
While you can trademark your unique logo, business name, or slogan, it’s important to understand that you can’t trademark IPs such as songs, films, inventions, customer lists, etc.
2. Conduct A Comprehensive Mark Search And Analysis
This is the next step when registering a trademark. Once you have come up with a mark, it’s crucial to research and determine whether it’s already registered under another brand. Thanks to technological advancement, you can utilize available trademark electronic search systems to go through all the federally registered trademarks.
You can simplify the process by narrowing your search using available filters for goods and service classes. Hence, it’ll be easier to verify that no similar mark exists in your class. At this stage, ensuring your mark meets all the requirements, including honesty, uniqueness, and distinctiveness, is crucial. If your mark can be confused with an already existing sign, there are higher chances your application will be denied.
Additionally, it’s important to research unregistered trademarks in your locality. In some cases, a business might not legally register its mark; however, by creating a reputation, they’re protected by common law rights. You can hire an attorney to guarantee you conduct a comprehensive search and avoid confusion.
3. Prepare For A Trademark Application
After conducting a comprehensive mark analysis and finding out your mark is registrable, it’s now time to prepare your application. At this stage, it’s important to conduct extensive research to understand what information is required beforehand, simplifying the process.
When preparing for a trademark application, it’s important to ensure you have some of the following documents. They include:
- Registration And Ownership documents: When registering a trademark, you’ll be required to produce registration and documents showing you own or manage the business. The documents will also outline the types of goods or services you’re dealing with and your objectives. Additionally, the documents will include company information such as contact details, business addresses, and other crucial pieces.
- Applicant Details: The documentation will outline the crucial details of an applicant. They include permanent addresses, valid identification documents, security numbers, and more. If there is a change in your personal details, it’s important to update your documentation to avoid issues in the future.
Besides preparing documents, it’s important to ensure you understand the fees associated with trademark registration. It will vary depending on your local administration, type of business class, and more. For this reason, it’s important to visit the right office and understand how much you need to prepare during the registration process. This will ensure you formulate the correct budget, guaranteeing you have enough bucks to finish the process.
4. Complete The Application Paperwork
Once you’re fully prepared, its now time to file your applications. With everything being available online, you can complete your application from the comfort of your home or office, saving you considerable money and time. The authority may take six to eight months to finish the examination process. If you qualify, you’ll receive a certificate, and then you can start using your preferred trademark to represent your business.
As discussed above, registering can be challenging, especially if you’re a newbie. For this reason, it’s important to ensure you’re equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge, to simplify the process of trademark registration. Moreover, delegate the responsibilities to a reputable attorney in your locality.