I mentioned in previous posts about the importance of having your brand trademarked, but I didn't go in depth on it nor talk about the process. That is what this blog post will do.
Trademarks offer the holder of a certain intellectual property (logo/symbol) the right to promote and brand their goods & services with said mark. This is extremely important for numerous reasons, but the biggest is it gives you full ownership of the intellectual property. As a start-up entrepreneur I'm sure you don't plan on being a small fish forever. The bigger you grow the bigger the risk is of someone having a similar logo or symbol and if you don't have a trademark that can be a disaster for you. Not just legally but branding wise, you will have to spend thousands of dollars re-branding your RECOGNIZED brand into something else because you failed to lock it down.
This is what separates the Entrepreneurs from the WANTrapreneurs. The process is pretty straightforward.
1. Make sure someone else hasn't already registered the mark or a similar mark in the category of goods & services you provide. You can search the United States Patent & Trademark Office database (USPTO) HERE
2. Once that is clear then it's time to search for & save up for a lawyer. Trust me this process is tedious and you want to make sure everything is correct and tight! I highly recommend you seek out a professional lawyer that deals with intellectual property I do not recommend doing the application yourself. You can find a lawyer for as low as $700 (based off my personal search), but generally range between $1,000-2,000. This does NOT include the trademark filing fee which is $275 minimum. I know this seems like a lot of money for a start-up and trust me it is a lot of money. However, it's NECESSARY so if you do not have the money then make it a PRIORITY GOAL to save for. This is something that is crucial to your business the bigger it grows and it must be done eventually.
3. After you have retained your lawyer and he/she files your trademark application you will receive a response within six months. As long as it isn't similar to another registered mark in your category you will be fine!
4. Your registered trademark is valid for a 10-year term then you must re-new it once that term is up. However, the USPTO requires you to file an affidavit around year 6 to show that the mark is still in use. If no affidavit is filed then the registration is cancelled.
So again this will require an investment and time, but it is necessary and worth it! Once your brand grows stronger & stronger it's better to send a cease & desist letter as opposed to receiving one! Keep that in mind!