11 Jan Why All Small Businesses Need a Trademark
As a trademark and business attorney, the most common question I get asked is, “Does my small business really need to register my trademark?” There is a rumor out there in business circles that trademark registration isn’t really necessary, or isn’t necessary until a business reaches a certain size. I’d like to debunk this myth right here and now: all small businesses need to register their trademarks, and they should do so right from the start.
Build Value in Your Business’ Brand
Your brand is made up of a few different elements. It includes your business name, your logo, your colors and fonts, and even your online presence, such as your website and social media accounts. As you conduct your business, you build value into your brand. THIS IS YOUR GOODWILL – AND IT IS PRICELESS. When your customers get to know your products or services, they will like, share, and review your business. This trust, reputation, and profitability that you are building IS your brand. Customers know they like you, they know where to find you, and they know how to recommend your goods and services, all because your business has a distinctive brand. Without that brand, customers would not be able to tell your goods and services from those created by another business. They wouldn’t be able to become return customers, and they wouldn’t be able to recommend your business to their friends and family. Over time, you will invest a whole lot of money, sweat, and tears into the development of your brand (my guess is you already have!). See how valuable a brand can be?
Stay in Control of How and Where Your Brand is Presented
One of the most common ways that business owners lose control of their brands is through trademark infringement. This can happen by accident or on purpose, but the damage is the same. If you are not in complete control of how and where your brand is presented, others can start using your brand and degrading its value. Imagine you own a marketing firm. You are well known in your community for your expertise and your high-quality work product. Your company’s name is Ellings Consulting. You have dozens of five-star reviews online and many of your new clients come to you through referrals.
Now, imagine that you are scrolling on Instagram and you notice your firm’s logo posted by a local organization. They are hosting a 5K to raise money for a political party, and they are claiming that your company is a sponsor of the event. You’ve never heard of the organization and you don’t want your company associated with any particular political party. But, it’s out there. What can you do?
Of course, the answer to this and many other scenarios is, REGISTER YOUR TRADEMARK!
Prevent Other Businesses from Interfering in Your Use
Let’s look at brand protection from another angle. While the scenario discussed above is more about protecting your brand’s reputation, here we are talking about the right that you have to use the brand in the first place. Again, imagine your marketing firm, Ellings Consulting, is doing really well in your city. You have a great reputation and you are turning a great profit. One day, you receive a letter in the mail from an attorney demanding that you stop using the name “Ellings Consulting,” as well as your logo. Of course, you don’t want to do that. Everyone in town knows you by your name and logo, and you have spent so much time cultivating that brand. How do you respond to this letter, proving that you have a right to the name and logo that you have spent years using?
You got it: REGISTER YOUR TRADEMARK!
Avoid the Need to Rebrand
Imagine that you didn’t register your trademark in the scenario above, and the other company, also called, “Ellings Consulting” successfully enforces their registered trademark against your company. What are your options? In truth, not many. You will likely have to rename your firm and rebrand. Essentially, you will have to start from scratch building relationships, trust in the community, and a strong reputation. What a waste time and money!
Registering Your Trademark from the Beginning Avoids a Lot of Hassle
Think through some of the scenarios mentioned above. How would litigation impact your business’ cash flow? How about an interruption in use of your brand? Or the need for a total re-brand? What would happen if your business’ reputation was damaged by a local business that has a similar name to yours and is known around town as being terrible? How do you stop their reputation from tarnishing yours. The solution to all of these issues is trademark registration, and staying ahead of these scenarios before they ever occur.
At The Brand Protected®, we have seen too many businesses suffer because they believed the myth that trademark registration wasn’t important for them. Don’t be one of those businesses! We can help.