Starting or growing a business comes with many legal considerations. A major component is branding the new venture with a trademark to provide identification. However, with more of the marketplace globally available, it can be challenging to find something that resonates with the business. Small business owners should not impulsively decide. Business owners should invest in researching the industry or product territory both locally and online to avoid resembling competitors.
Completing a trademark search will help identify potentially competing ideas and brands that will help the process. Having a unique last name or combining words can avoid common legal pitfalls. More common names or brands may appear if they are not directly competing in the same sector. Using an established name may create additional challenges, but it is not completely forbidden.
Check social media to see what potential competitors use with trademarks and general branding strategy. Social media platforms have become more vital in building new companies. App stores would be a good place to find brands with similar names and functions. There are also common law databases available for regional companies who entered the marketplace and have done business with a trademark but did not file nationally.
What Should Business Owners Avoid?
The following are some suggestions on what to avoid in creating a new trademark:
- Being too similar phonetically to other trademarks.
- Being too visually similar to other trademarks.
- Being similar to brands with a record of challenging trademarks in court.
- Coincide with any legal precedent that would warrant a legal challenge.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has videos and other online resources to help companies avoid common mistakes in creating a trademark and expedite the approval process.
What Should Companies Do While Applying for a Trademark?
The application for a trademark will require a physical manifestation of the new mark, both in basic logo form and on apparel or marketing materials. Make sure the wording and illustration are distinctive enough to uniquely identify the brand for consumers.
Rights to a trademark go to the first company to use it in a specific field or region. However, federal registration can allow a company who does not file first to be the owner of a mark or brand name. While the process is long and costly, it may be beneficial long-term for a company to register federally. Locking in usage requirements happens when either a brand comes to market for sale, or the promotion of the brand is used through printed or digital resources. This works best for a consistently marketed or sold product or service. A trademark that is not used for about three years may lose its rights.
If applying, business owners should make sure to follow up with any questions or challenges that may be posed to try to avoid complex litigation issues. If anything arises, the legal process can take months or longer if it is not properly vetted and all procedures are followed.
Philadelphia Business Attorneys at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Business Owners with Trademark Applications and Disputes
There are many considerations while forming a trademark for a new company. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office strongly encourages using a licensed attorney with trademark law experience to help with the process. A Philadelphia business attorney at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help your company and defend your new trademark application. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Based in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and South Jersey.