There are a few myths about trademark running amuck and causing creative entrepreneurs headache, heartache and hassle. Let’s take a look and set them straight.
This free legal information is made available courtesy of Counsel to Creativity.
Myth 1: My business is too small to need to protect its trademark.
Truth: Trademark Infringement does not discriminate based upon size
Myth 2: The domain name I wanted was available so I can use that as a trademark.
Truth: Domain name registrars do not cross-reference with the Trademark Office (and certainly don’t give any indication of the use of an unregistered mark). Additionally, the distinctions required to obtain a “unique” domain name are not the same as what is required to establish a distinct trademark (in other words, one that does not infringe an existing mark).
Myth 3: I own the trademark because I’ve owned the domain name for years.
Truth: Simply owning a domain name is not enough to establish rights to a trademark. You must use a name in trade—through a live website at that domain or otherwise to promote and sell your services—to establish trademark rights.
Myth 4: We (I and another business owner) can co-exist using similar trademarks because we do different things.
Truth: Maybe yes; maybe no. How likely is it that your audiences will confuse your businesses? Will the Trademark Office or a court agree? This is a hard (and expensive) risk to evaluate without the advice of an attorney.
Myth 5: I only need to use my trademark to protect my rights; registering it is “over kill.”
Truth: First use of a trademark will protect your rights to a mark where you actually use it—and only there. Use of a mark will not establish your rights to the mark in California, for example, if the only place you’ve earned a reputation is in Michigan. If you are planning on a national business (and with the internet, who isn’t?), federally registering your mark gains you an advantage by providing you national rights without having actual use in every market in the country. Registration also legally stops others from innocent use, which otherwise carves out exceptions to your exclusive trademark rights. These are all important considerations when it comes to trademarking your business.
In the comments below, let me know what your biggest Aha! was about trademarks. Then take action to protect your brand with the FREE e-course, The 2 Things You Must Do to Protect Your Brand. It answers all your questions about the process, benefits and costs of protecting your brand with a federally registered trademark. And it’s free! Download it now.
Learn the 2 Things You Must Do to Protect Your Brand Now.
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Looking to change your business to better suit your life? Rebecca Prien also provides business coaching and business model design services through Ompreneur | The Yoga of Entrepreneurship.