Inventors should learn how to trademark their product in order to protect their rights and build their product brand. This is important for several reasons. The first is protection of their ideas. A trademark is a simple and inexpensive way to protect your brand and your product. The second reason is to build intellectual property that you can market or sell. Good trademarks are valuable assets. If you intend to license your product idea having assets other than a patent can be a big help.
Before getting a trademark it is best to understand what a trademark is, why they are important and the basic trademark process. All of this and more is described below on how to trademark.
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or combination which identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods or services of one party from those of others. A trademark also represents the protection you get for your word or phrase.
There are four good reasons to get a trademark. All four pertain to building and protecting your reputation and brand. They include:
The trademark process is not complicated. It boils down to two main steps, doing a trademark search and filing a trademark application. Both steps can be done online and in as little as a few hours.
The trademark search is the first step in the process. This is done by searching the existing trademark database and looking for your word or phrase and other close matches to your word or phrase. If you find a match you need to examine the classification that the trademark is filed under. Two companies could use a similar trademark if they are in different classifications.
If your trademark is not already in use by another company and you feel your search is complete the next step is to file a trademark application. The US patent and trademark office has an online application process. There is also a great tutorial at the patent office website on how to file your application online.
My philosophy is that you do not need an attorney for trademark work. In fact I have never used an attorney to file a trademark application. The reason I don't use an attorney to file for trademarks is due to cost and the simplicity of filing yourself. If I do a trademark search and have a reasonable expectation that the trademark is going to be registered, I file it myself and the pay the $325 fee. If I missed something in the search and my trademark application is rejected I am only out the $325. If I use an attorney at $250 per hour and he does the search and files for the trademark there is still a chance he is wrong. Certainly the chance is smaller but it still happens. The only difference is that I likely paid an extra $500 to find out by using an attorney.
It boils down to preference and how high the stakes are. You never want to assume that you will get your trademark registered. Only the trademark office can make the determination as to whether you are entitled to a trademark or not. Therefore do not invest heavily in your mark until you are sure. I have known people who have lost tens of thousands of dollars because they invested too early in their trademark. Oh and yes they did use an attorney for both the search and the filing. It is always best to minimize your risks as much as possible.
If you are uncomfortable with the process of how to trademark then you should probably consider professional help. The one resource that I have referred people to in the past is Mr. Trademark, at www.mrtrademark.com. They are not a law firm but they offer excellent service and good prices on both searching and filing trademarks.
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