Entrepreneurs starting a new business face many risks – from raising capital, to building a customer base, to establishing a brand. But did you know that not protecting your brand could potentially be one of the biggest risks?
As Executive Product Owner for Trademark.com, an all-in-one trademark research, registration, and watch tool, I’ve seen countless cases of entrepreneurs losing their hard work due to trademark infringement and copycats. When building a business, it’s imperative to properly research, secure and monitor your trademark to help save your brand from copycats you may be unaware of.
Secure Your Trademark
One very important step in protecting your brand is to secure your trademark. Business owners should register their trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Follow the appropriate steps to research and register your mark – this includes checking the marketplace, the USPTO and existing registered trademarks for similar names, resolving any legal issues, and completing the process in a timely manner.
Monitor, Monitor, Monitor
Protection doesn’t end with trademark registration, however. In order to fully protect against copycats, business owners must monitor for potential attempts by others to register similar names. If you find this happening, be sure to act quickly as you only have 30 days to oppose a mark in the U.S. You can even simplify the monitoring process by enlisting a tool such as Trademark.com which will monitor your mark and send alerts about copycats.
Understanding the Risks in Marketing Technology: Copycats & Infringement
In working to protect your brand, it’s important to also understand the risks – anything from business names, designs, or even logos can be subject to copycats and infringement. Don’t let another entrepreneur beat you to the punch – one in three surveyed businesses reported having to re-brand because they failed to properly establish and protect their trademark. Avoid confusion among your customers before they return to someone else, and mitigate the chances or your name being potentially stolen.
Take a cue from large companies such as McDonalds, who lost the trademark battle in the European Union for their iconic Big Mac, or even budding businesses such as NYC-based Milk Bar who now faces copycats in Chicago. Your business, product or service name is of utmost importance, as it is your brand.
If your trademark is not properly in place, another business owner can easily attempt to rob your brand and hard work by utilizing your name. Diminish risk from the start and properly secure your trademark.