There are a million things to do when you start a company and — we get it — intellectual property (IP) is not necessarily your highest priority. We are IP attorneys, so of course we think what we do is important. Nonetheless, in speaking with entrepreneurs and company founders, we are consistently amazed by how little emphasis is placed on the value of IP.
Trademark clearance and registration is a crucial way to get ahead, and also set your business up for future success. Here are 7 reasons why you should prioritize choosing a strong trademark and filing for registration with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and/or other applicable government offices:
1. The Value of a Brand
Brands are often the most valuable assets that companies own and develop over time, and trademark is one of the most important tools for securing and protecting those brands.
2. Attractive to Investors
This logically follows point #1. The more value you can attribute to your IP portfolio, the more you can attribute to your company, the more likely investors will envision returns. When we speak to sophisticated investors, strength and proper management of a startup’s IP portfolio are always near the top of their list of initial inquiries.
3. Deter Use of Similar Junior Brands
Sometimes the mere filing of a federal application can provide protection for your brand. It signals to competitors that they should reconsider any confusingly-similar marks when they conduct their own clearance search. Furthermore, the USPTO will generally refuse confusingly-similar marks that have junior (later) filing dates to that of your application.
4. Easily Protect Against Online Infringement
If you discover somebody infringing your trademark on any of the myriad social media or content-sharing websites, the policies of these sites often require some basis for your takedown claim. Sites will be far more likely to remove infringing content if you produce a federal trademark application or registration as basis for doing so. Applications and registrations lend that same weight of credibility to cease & desist requests sent directly to infringing parties.
5. Greater Leverage in Enforcement
Registration allows you to sue in federal court, where a judge may grant an injunction, award damages for infringement and – in some cases – allow you to recover legal fees. This instantly raises the stakes for third-party infringers who will think twice about adopting or maintaining a confusingly-similar brand.
6. Nationwide (and Even International) Priority
Registration typically results in nationwide priority for your trademark, established from the date of your application’s initial filing. On a grander scale this “Priority Filing Date” can also be used to establish seniority in the many foreign countries that are fellow signatories to the international treaty known as the Paris Convention...no small privilege in this increasingly global economy.
7. Save Those Precious Startup Funds
New companies are inclined to being budget-conscious. Fortunately, it doesn’t require the cost of an in-house legal department to secure, monitor and enforce a company’s trademark portfolio. In most cases, a well-placed investment to ensure the strength of your IP during (or prior to) a company’s inception will ultimately save its founders significant time, money and stress dealing with future conflicts and emergencies that were otherwise avoidable.
For more information on this and related topics, or to setup a free consultation, please contact the Law Offices of James P. Marion, Esq.
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to provide general information only, and should not be construed as formal legal advice or the formation of an attorney-client relationship. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the materials contained herein and The Law Offices of James P. Marion, Esq. explicitly disclaims any liability for your action or inaction based on the contents of this article.