Trademarking your business is a crucial part of securing what is rightfully yours. After all, your ideas are the keys to making disposable income in 2020. I like to think that trademarking is like legalizing your business’s personality. Trademarking is the process of registering your business’s intellectual property, which includes anything that makes the business unique. For example, one may get their brand specifics of a brand logo, products, or services, as well as expressions of speech trademarked.
Trademarking has become increasingly more important for business owners to protect themselves from corporate conglomerates and internet copycats.
There is even a blog called “Diet Prada” that frequently exposes how high fashion brands frequently copy small brands’ designs and get away with it because these small brands did not legally protect their creativity. The same can be applied to underserved communities who are frequently popping with ideas and insights.
Here are three things you need to know for your next trademarking venture.
1. Make sure you trademark in at least two marks or categories.
When you start the process of trademarking, you will soon find out that it’s a long process and it can take an average of several months for the whole process to be completed. There’s the preliminary stage, which includes research and defining the specifics of the very thing you want to be trademarked. For example, the iconic couple Jay Z and Beyonce trademarked their firstborn daughter’s name. Whether the power couple wants to create any businesses with their daughter’s name or leave it idle, marketers know that leveraging that name could be profitable because it’s catchy and two syllables. Plus, that name is the perfect identity for a baby clothing brand or product. To protect the name from being profited off of, the power couple trademarked “Blue Ivy” in several categories. The easiest route to trademarking is the name without the color, style and other bells and whistles being defined in your actual mark documentation. This makes it easier to trademark throughout several categories like products, blogs, technology, and financial theories. No one can use the baby’s name for anything, not even the name of a light bulb.
2. Trademark EVERYTHING
When it comes to trademarking in the 21st century, the idea has truly evolved to include basically everything, even social media hashtags.
A few years ago, a content creator trademarked a popular saying that frequently popped up in social media chat timelines. I won’t mention the name for fear of infringing on the trademark, but this saying was also plastered on tee shirts, matchbooks, etc, that were given to influencers. The phrase quickly gained popularity and was being used almost everywhere in urban pop culture. There was no credit being given to the originator of the hashtag.
That is, not until another influencer decided to screenprint that phrase on a tee shirt and start selling their own version of it. Since the originator had the hashtag trademarked, they were able to stop the sale of these products by other influencers.
The moral of the story: Trademark everything and protect yourself!
3. Beware of Scammers!
It’s important to note that anyone can file a trademark. You do not need an attorney to file for you.
Some people do choose to have an attorney help, but it is not legally required.
Some marketing companies use the fact that filing a trademark can be complex and confusing to push you into hiring them to file on your behalf. Once your trademark is pending, it is public information and they are able to find your address and start marketing their services to you. Again– this is NOT necessary. If you do feel like you need some help, reach out to your network and find a trusted attorney to help you.
When I filed my own trademark, I was blessed to actually have someone I met at a legal conference file the actual paperwork for me at no additional cost. I just paid the trademarking fees. We consulted a few times on the specifics of the mark and this person helped me determine the type of mark I was filing to the US Trademark Department. However, the process after that can be a mind game. First of all, several scam companies reached out to me trying to get me to spend more money on my mark even though I filed it correctly. In general, just beware of the communication you will receive once your trademark is pending, as the fees from these companies can quickly increase based on the complexity of your mark.
If all else fails, ask yourself what would Beyonce do? If you’re thinking about trademarking something special to you, my advice would be to just do it! It lasts over 100 years and as an entrepreneur, we know that creativity comes in all forms.