Ready to learn the legal steps you should take before launching a product? If you’re launching a new product or product brand, chances are you’re thinking through all the different aspects of production, packaging, delivery, and ensuring that the consumer experience will be incredible. You’re right to focus on all of those, the initial impression, the experience, and the details that go into the experience of your brand is key factor in how well you’ll do. In fact, most Americans agree that the design of a product’s packaging (72%) and the materials used to package a product (67%) often influence their purchase decisions when selecting which products to buy (Ipsos). With numbers like these, it makes those tangible aspects front and center! But what are the legal steps you should take before launching a product? After all, you want your product to be around for a long time and ideally, hold the status of iconic. Of course, that means creating a great product, but what should you be doing on the back end of your business?
First, it’s important to think about brand security around your product AND to do this while you’re in the naming process. You certainly don’t want to use a name that’s already taken in your industry, that would open you up to a potential lawsuit, not to mention the general brand confusion your consumers might experience within the market. Practically, you want to utilize the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s search resources. Conducting a detailed search online and in their database will give you an idea of who else may be using this name and if they have made a legal claim to it by trademarking it. (Sidebar, to fully own your product’s name, you must trademark it. It does not fall under copyright law and if you want to read about this difference, read this post!) If no competitors seem to be using it and no one has trademarked it in your industry, step one is done. If someone else is using it and has trademarked it in your industry, we recommend either choosing another name or doing a detailed consultation with an attorney to see if there is still room for you to argue your case with the USPTO successfully.
Next, you want to get your trademark application filed as soon as possible. The USPTO will date stamp your application so if anyone tries to file for the same trademark after you, their application will be suspended. This is incredibly important if you plan to launch your product BEFORE your trademark is approved. (Trademarking can often take up to a year for final approval so if you value brand security, this is a big step you need to take.) Because the approval process takes so long, you will want to make sure your trademark application is detailed and correct. If there are any errors or it’s not as detailed as it needs to be, you may get rejected and have to go back to the starting line, something NO entrepreneur needs! For the strongest application, work with an attorney who specializes in trademarking so everything is taken care of for you.
Finally, you’ll want to use the ™ symbol next to your product name to show intent to trademark and offer some temporary brand protection. This will set you up for success while your application waits in line for review and approval. If you’re wondering about the difference between the ™ and ® symbols for your brand, we break down everything you need to know right here.
If you’re looking for trademark experts to handle everything for you as your launch your product, we’re here to help! Our digital firm specializes in trademarking and can advise you on the ideal launch timeline that will best safeguard your incredible brand. Book your free consult here.
*This post is for general education and does not initiate an attorney-client relationship with us. We always recommend consulting a trademark attorney for your brand’s specific needs.