Protecting Your Trademarks When You’re Just Starting Out And Low On Cash

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Build the brand.  Be the brand.  You are the brand.  We all know that having a strong brand is important in business.  According to brand mastermind maven, Tani Chambers, your brand is the look, feel and consistency of the language your business presents to consumers.  After spending your sweat, blood and tears developing a brand that speaks to your ideal client you should commit the same efforts to protecting it.  But how do you protect your fabulous brand when you’re just starting out and low on cash? If you are concerned about someone stealing your brand while you’re getting your money right then you should know these three things.

First thing you should know, what some of you probably do know, is protecting your brand is an investment.  Not a short term investment but long term.  Your registered trademark last as long as it is being used to identify your brand in commerce.  It has the potential to speak to consumers for decades.  Centuries even. It is your responsibility to plan for longevity and success of your business.  There is no need of investing in registering your trademark if you have not taking the time to ensure you have a viable business.  This means having a plan, setting goals and taking action.  If you have not done this you are not ready to make the investment.

Second thing you should know is that you have an inherent common law right in your brand identifiers.  That is to say, you do not have to register your trademarks to exercise your right of exclusion.  You should also know however, the right of exclusion of an unregistered trademark is limited to the geographical area in which the trademark is used.

Finally, don’t wait until you register your trademark to use it.  I talk to people everyday who want to wait to use their logo, trade name or other identifier until it is registered.  They are terrified that someone will copy the brand they worked so hard to create.  In the United States trademark ownership is first to use not first to register.  If you put off using your mark until it is registered and someone comes along and creates a similar mark they will own the trademark not you.

Yes you can wait but if you have a viable business that will expand throughout the United States and if you have a unique brand that resonates with consumers then you should definitely invest in protecting your brand.  Contact my office if you are ready to begin the trademark process.

LaConya “Connie” Murray, Esq.
The Small Business Attorney

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