Business owners are often confused about whether or not they should get trademark registration.
Amazon sellers want to get into Amazon Brand Registry so they are quite sure about wanting trademark registration, but the hesitation still exists.
This hesitation is mostly because sellers simply don’t know how to file for a trademark.
However, the trademark registration process is quite simple and straightforward.
This post will guide you through the entire process, give you tips on how to get trademarks easily, protect your brand, and much more!
Let’s get started.
A trademark is the cheapest protection you can have for your business.
It is basically the legal term for a brand. A trademark can be anything: a slogan, word, logo, sound and even smell.
The number one reason for an Amazon seller to get a trademark is to get into Amazon Brand Registry. In fact, this is the only thing most of the Amazon sellers care about while filing for trademarks.
However, there are many other benefits of getting a trademark as well. Here’s why it’s important to trademark your brand:
First of all, it gives you exclusive rights to use the trademark however you want, and also sue others if they use your trademark for their own business.
A trademark is an asset. As your business grows, so does the value of your trademark. This means that if you sell your company then your trademark will add substantially to its value.
A trademark serves as a unique identity for your product or service. It protects your brand from being confused with other brands by differentiating it among the rest.
The best thing about a trademark is that it lasts forever, giving you a lifetime of freedom to use your trademarked asset. All you have to do is to renew it just once after the first 10 years.
If you use a self-designed logo or name on your product’s packaging, on your website, product inserts etc. then you’re using it as a trademark.
It is a trademark, but since you haven’t filed for it yet, it’s still an unregistered trademark. This means that yes, you do have rights to your trademark but they are limited, and also quite difficult and expensive to enforce because you would need to prove your ownership of the trademark.
On the other hand, if you file for a trademark then it would become a registered trademark. It would be presumed valid and your ownership would not require proof in court. Enforcing your rights with a registered trademark is thus not only easier but also cheaper.
Sometimes companies put ™ over their logos and sometimes they put Ⓡ. For example:
Here’s the difference between these two:
™ can be used for both registered and unregistered trademarks as well.
™ means that you’re telling the public that hey, this is my trademark, don’t touch it.
If used for an unregistered trademark, it is actually nothing more than a sign that you use as a warning.
In this case, if someone uses your trademark then you would be able to take legal action against them but your case wouldn’t be a strong one.
On the other hand, Ⓡ can only be used for registered trademarks. It is more like a certificate than a mere symbol. It tells the public that hey, this is our brand and we’ve got the registry for it too. Enforcing legal rights would be much easier here in case of an infringement.
You can either register for the trademark yourself or hire someone else to do so.
The reason why you shouldn’t do it yourself is because it can be a time taking process. As the business owner, your time and energy should be focused on working on your business. So, just delegate the task of trademark registration to someone else.
For this purpose, you can use online companies that offer software to help you through the trademark process. However, the best option is to use a trademark professional because they will save you both time and money. They can help you avoid costly mistakes as well:
Trademark professionals are like a one-time investment that take care of your trademark filing while you are free to work on your business.
A good trademarking company to use is Trademarkia. Firms like them may seem a bit costly at first glance, but they are the ones that truly take care of the entire process for you while you relax and focus on your business.
There are other, cheaper options as well, but they are misleading most of the time. They will claim to handle your registration in under $100-200 but what they won’t tell you is that they would cost you extra for every other little thing.
For example, filing for the statement of use, all reporting after filing, objections from the trademark office and every other little thing would cost you extra.
Therefore, the best way to successfully file for a trademark is to hire a reputable trademark professional.
A trademark registration can get declined for a number of reasons, both formal and substantive.
To avoid rejection, here are the 3 top things to be careful about while filing for your trademark:
To this day, a majority of the business owners fail to realize the importance of doing a trademark search for similar brand names that may potentially be a problem later.
In fact, this is the reason why most of the trademarks get rejected. Imagine filing for a trademark only to be notified months later that your trademark is already registered by someone else. Trust us, you don’t want that.
In some cases, by the time you get notified, you’ve already made a reputable name for your business and changing your brand name at that time can be a major setback.
In addition, businesses with registered trademarks are always on the lookout to protect their brand. It is quite possible that once you file for a trademark similar to theirs, they may learn about it and sue you. This can get you in even bigger trouble.
So, the bottom-line is that if someone is already using a name similar to yours, just pick another name. Don’t file for that name.
This includes both registered and unregistered brands. If you see your brand name being used already, you should not care whether owner has registered for it or not. Just change your name. Even unregistered trademarks can create time consuming and costly lawsuits that are just not worth it.
You can go to the US Trademarks website (USPTO.gov) and in the trademarks office database, check for filed and registered trademarks. You can also search by keywords to confirm that there is no similar trademark already registered.
In addition, you should also do Google and Amazon searches for the same purpose: making sure that your trademark idea isn’t already registered by someone else.
Another website popular among business owners to check for trademarks is Namechk.com. They provide thorough results after checking various sites and even social media platforms for similar brand names or domain names as yours.
The best thing to do is to trademark both your name and your logo, but separately. Here’s why:
If you file for just one trademark - name and logo combined into one symbol - it really limits your freedom to use them. Although it is a bit easier to trademark such symbols, you would not even be able to use them separately.
On the other hand, if you file for them both separately then you would be able to combine them however you want.
However, if you’re financially not able to file for 2 trademarks at the same time then try to file for the name first. However, if there are any complications with the name then file for the logo first and then file for the name later as it would be easier then.
Keep in mind though, in order to get Amazon Brand Registry, you would need to have a registered brand name.
If you’re filing for the very first time, always file for a black and white logo. This would allow you to use your trademark in any color. You would not be limited to just the registered colors.
A colored logo is only recommended if you’re filing for a second trademark or if you want to protect your colors.
For example, Starbucks trademarked their name first, then an uncolored logo and then their signature green logo at the very last.
Once you have registered your trademark, you still have to be proactive to protect your brand. It would be your responsibility to check for infringement cases, no one will tell you about them.
So, the simplest way to ensure that no one else uses your trademark is to keep an eye on the marketplace. The way to do this is the same as when you do trademark search before filing your trademark.
Just make sure to check Google and Amazon at least once every month.
Tip: a free way to easily keep an eye on brands is to set up a Google alert for your exact brand name and also for names closely similar to yours. Google would then notify you if someone copies your name.
In addition, you can also hire a trademark monitoring professional to regularly check trademark databases. He would notify you as soon as someone files for a trademark similar to yours.
Sometimes people just want to have a trademark for the fun of it. This is not allowed. If you don’t intend on using a trademark, you cannot have it registered or keep others from using it.
Similarly, if you abandon your trademark and stop using it for some reason, it may become available to others. In such cases, others would not only be able to use it but may also be able to file for it.
You actually have to file a mandatory post-registration statement of use between the 5th and 6th year. If you don’t do that, your trademark would be cancelled.
In this case, if you still use it and just forgot to file the statement, you would still hold legal rights.
However, if you don’t use it anymore then you would not have legal rights and other businesses would be able to file for your trademark.
Let’s answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about trademarks to clear some common confusions:
It takes about 8 months to get your brand registered after you file, even if there are some minor objections. However, if there are complications then it can take more than a year.
In order to get into Amazon Brand Registry, you need to first have your trademark registration. Since the process usually takes about 8 months, you cannot file for Amazon Brand Registry before that at least.
Amazon wants to make sure that you are the owner of your brand before they give you the brand’s registry. These ownership rights come only when your trademark has been approved and registered.
If you file for the trademark yourself, then you would need to provide your email address at the time of registration. The US Trademarks Office will notify you in case of any objections or just the general progress etc. on this email address.
If you work with a trademark professional or an attorney, they would get notified of the progress.
In addition, you can also check your registration’s status online at http://tsdr.uspto.gov/.
It all comes down to the concept of use. If they don’t use your trademark in a legal sense or claim it to be theirs in anyway, then they can use it.
However, no one is allowed to advertise or supply their products under your name. For example, if someone puts your trademark on their packaging then it’s not allowed.
It may take only a month to get state registration (while federal registration takes at least 8 months), but it still cannot get you into Amazon Brand Registry.
It all comes down to whether or not you’re willing to make an effort to protect your brand.
Financially, it is only a one-time investment that can get you out of potential future lawsuits expenses. The mental peace that comes with a registered trademark is also necessary for a seller to be able to work on his brand.
The registration process, as we mentioned, is best handled by professionals. So, what you really have to do to get trademark registration is just to come up with a trademark idea and then leave the rest up to professionals.
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