Like most business owners, you probably have selected your new business name or trademark. However, you may have forgotten to check whether the name you picked is protectable. To help you start off on the right path, here are 4 trademark mistakes to avoid in your small business.
4 Trademark Mistakes To Avoid in Your Small Business
The logos and names you use in advertising your services or products can be protected legally as trademarks. If you don’t, you can get into trouble later on. With that in mind, we’re going to tell you the mistakes you should avoid during the registration process.
Failing To Monitor the Status of Your Application
When registering for a trademark, the USPTO (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) can issue a letter explaining problems with a trademark application. It can also include details about when and how you should respond to solve the problems.
That being said, you should keep monitoring the status of your pending application after every three months. To track your application status, use the Document Retrieval and the Trademark Status system.
If you fail to respond to the letter within six months, your application can be canceled, requiring you to pay more money to reinstate your application.
Using a Generic Trademark
Every business including yours should have a unique trademark. There are five trademark categories including:
If your trademark application uses descriptive terms to describe your products or services, the USPTO can reject it. Likewise, generic terms aren’t suitable for trademark protection because they only describe general services or products instead of your company’s brand.
For example, if you’re registering a trademark for a candy shop, the name ‘Best Candy Shop in Town’ won’t be granted a trademark because the phrases are too generic. Instead, you should choose suggestive or arbitrary words that distinguish your brand from other businesses already on the market.
Failing To Use the Trademark in Commerce
While a business doesn’t have to register a trademark, it must apply for one to protect it. Before applying, your business should use it in commerce in relation to specific services or products. If you don’t use the trademark, file an Intent-to-Use application with the USPTO stating you intend to use it later on.
Note that the process of registering your trademark can only commence if you start using the trademark in commerce. Once you do that, you can file a statement of use, which is a document explaining how you’re using the trademark in the marketplace. You have up to three years to file this statement.
Selecting the Wrong Trademark Class
Your business should describe thoroughly the services or products the trademark will apply to in the application form. Keep in mind that your trademark will apply to these services or products (sometimes known as trademark classes).
For instance, if you’re selling button-down men’s shirts without a collar, you can’t register your logo under the button-down men’s shirt with a collar. These trademark classes are different from the USPTO. So your trademark doesn’t provide protection for shirts without collars if you applied for collared shirts.
Note that you cannot list every service or product because it’s illegal. However, you can use digital signages to showcase new products. Also, if your application contains misleading information, your trademark can be revoked.
These trademark mistakes can cost you money and even force you to close your business. Educate yourself and protect your business the right way so that you profit from its future value.