No matter if you own a small business or a large conglomerate, your intellectual property is one of the most valuable assets of the entire enterprise. Your trademark is essentially how your customers distinguish the goods or services that you provide from that of others. A trademark asset can include: your business name, a logo, a slogan, the name of individual products you sell, a podcast or blog name, a course name or even a hashtag – anything that is a brand identifier for your good or service. One thing that’s for sure, is that every business has at least one trademark asset. However, before investing your time and resources into branding your business, the first thing that all business owners should do is conduct a comprehensive trademark clearance search. In fact, even if you have already branded your business, it is still a good idea to conduct a clearance search for several reasons.
Failing to conduct a clearance search before branding your business can have a negative impact on your business down the road. At the onset, you run the risk of infringing on someone else’s assets. A simple google search, search of the USPTO’s TESS database, or social media search may not uncover another business’ common law claim to a trademark asset. What’s more is that if discovered, you may receive a cease and desist letter or even become the subject of a lawsuit for your unauthorized use of their asset. Even worse, you may be forced to surrender those very assets and be required to rebrand. Nonetheless, this will result in a loss of money that you invested in marketing and branding and a potential loss of your established customer base.
Additionally, should you wish to register your trademark, which is highly recommended, you will want to discover the level of risk that is associated with your mark before the trademark process begins. The USPTO’s standard for determining whether a trademark will ultimately receive federal protection hinges on the likelihood of confusion between your mark and that of another mark. That’s right, even though you may have found no marks identical to yours, if your mark is likely to cause consumer confusion with another trademark owner, you may be denied registration. These are things that you want to determine in the early stages of business formation to forgo denial of federal trademark protection, forced rebranding, or costly litigation.
Now that you know the consequences for failing to do your due diligence beforehand, contact Hebert-Thomas Law, PLLC to help you conduct a comprehensive search to protect your brand and butter,™ today! Click here to request a consultation.