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To Protect Your Brand Name, Trademark It

Posted on the 21 May 2015 by Marketingtango @marketingtango

To Protect Your Brand Name, Trademark It

Coming up with the right name for your product or service isn’t easy. Then that name may also need a logo to go with it, suitable for use on your website, letterhead, promotional merchandise, and signage.

If you run a restaurant, maybe you’ve even come up with creative names for some of your more unique, popular menu items.

If such names are important to your business, and they should be, take the time to properly protect them with trademarks.

According to the US Patent and Trademark office, “A trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.”

Writing in Entrepreneur, Peter Gasca lists a few lessons about trademarks that integrated marketers can learn from the craft beer industry.

Understand Trademark Law

You don’t have to be an expert, but all marketers and business owners should understand the basics of trademark law, as well as other aspects of intellectual property law, such as copyrights and patents. Trademarks serve as legal protection for your brand by preventing potential conflicts or confusion with other companies.

Know Your Market

In the craft beer industry, the four largest companies control a whopping 89.5 percent of the entire market. But that remaining 10.5 percent consists of thousands of smaller brewers willing to work together in resolving their differences before resorting to costly court battles.

Register Your Trademarks

You’ve invested a lot of time and expense into developing your brand name. So spend $275 more to register it and prevent future problems. Hiring a trademark attorney is always preferable, but in the meantime, do some homework on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. You can also do a quick search on a domain registration site to see if anyone has purchased a domain for the name you want.

Collaboration vs. Litigation

Most people want to avoid the hassle and expense of lawsuits (attorneys excepted, of course).
In the case of the craft beer industry, many of the smaller regional companies have learned that collaboration is preferable to litigation. A simple phone inquiry can help to not only prevent conflict, but can also lead to strategic partnerships between friendly competitors.

A good rule of thumb? Only when there is a significant threat to your brand, and every other option has been explored and exhausted, should you resort to legal action.

If this aspect of branding is too serious or left-brained for you right now, take a little side trip to posts that emphasize branding’s fun and creative side.

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