This Could Kill Your Business – Trademark Basics 101
What’s the Worst That Could Happen if You Don’t Trademark Your Brand Name?
1. If you start selling a good or service without owning the brand name that you are selling under, you risk being sued by a trademark owner who may have the same or similar name. This may apply even if you were first to use the trademark because the Lanham Act (Trademark Act) operates under a “first to file” system. Rebranding after starting a business can be extremely costly and difficult.
2. If you do not have a trademark registration and you are sued, not only might you be forced to rebrand, you may also have to pay all profits that you made while using such a trademark.This could mean forking over years of hard-earned work! On the other hand, if your business has a trademark registration, the same is true for anyone infringing on your trademark. You can recover all profits made by an infringer while they were using your trademark (or a similar name).
3. If you do not have a trademark registration, you may have to pay lost profits to another person or company that has a registration for the trademark. What this means is that you would have to pay the amount that the other person or company would have earned if you were not also using their trademark. This amount is determined by the court and can be fairly significant. On the other hand, if you have a trademark registration you can recover lost profits from someone else who is using your trademark.
4. If you do not have a trademark registration, another person or company can permanently stop you from using your trademark (brand name, logo, or slogan) and even your website and social media accounts! The same again is true if you are the rightful owner of a trademark certificate. If you have a trademark registration, you can permanently stop another person or company from using names, logos, and slogans that are similar to yours.
5. If you do not have a federal trademark registration, it may be difficult to expand into other states as someone who already has a registration for the same or a similar trademark may have been using it there before you. Common law trademark rights are generally based on the location of use, whereas federal trademark registrations give national ownership rights. Not having a federal trademark registration can be extremely limiting to the growth and expansion of your business!
YOU’VE BUILT IT, NOW PROTECT IT!