Applying for a trademark can seem like a daunting task, whether you’re a brand-new entrepreneur or a seasoned business owner. You may think that you don’t need to worry about trademarking until your business really takes off, but that’s not always the case.
In truth, trademarking your intellectual property can prepare your business for long-term success and save you time and frustration in the future.
We’re not saying that you need to apply for a trademark as soon as you’ve got an idea for a potential product or service. However, we do have some suggestions for figuring out the best time to start the trademarking process.
When You’re Ready to Invest in Your Idea
Do you need to apply for a trademark as soon as you have an idea for a new product or business? Not necessarily; it’s all about timing!
Is your business idea something you’re ready to start working on, or is it a possible project you might commit to in the future? If you’re not totally sure you want to pursue your idea right now, then it’s best to wait on applying for a trademark.
On the other hand, if you’re ready to start investing time and money in your idea with the goal of bringing it to market, then it’s a good time to file for a trademark. Getting your trademark(s) early can help prevent unforeseen issues, like realizing someone else is already using your brand name or selling a similar product or service.
It can also prevent copycats from swooping in before you have a chance to really gain traction.
When You’ve Got a Brand or Offer Name
Once you’ve got a brand name or offer name that you know you want to use, it’s likely time to trademark. It’s important to choose a name that’s easily identifiable and not likely to be confused with other businesses, especially those in your industry. Checking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for similar names can also help you change course to avoid legal disputes down the road.
Note: Even if you decide to go with a version of your own name for a service-based business, you should still apply for a trademark! Using your name does not automatically protect your brand.
When You’ve Got a Logo, Tagline, or Slogan
Is your brand name the only thing you should trademark? Most entrepreneurs start by trademarking their brand or business name or potentially offers, methodologies, or even formulas (for our beauty and wellness brands reading this).
However, other trademarks can be just as important. Many consumers find it easier to remember or identify with a logo or slogan than a business name, so if you have a strong idea for a logo and tagline, consider trademarking them too.
Trademarking the visual elements of your brand can also help solidify your business identity, which is a critical part of developing a marketing strategy. A clear brand with effective visuals provides a strong foundation for your business’s online presence and marketing materials.
When You’re Ready to Launch a New Product
Another good time to apply for a trademark is when you’re ready to release a new product. It’s easy to let trademarking fall by the wayside when you’re focusing on the presentation, name, and packaging of your new product. Still, you don’t want to risk losing market share to another business with a similar product.
Doing the research for your trademark application can give you a clear understanding of the competition your product may face in the market.
When You Can Afford Trademark Support
What if you’re not in the beginning stages of your business? No matter how long your brand has been around, it’s never too late to trademark your name and visual elements.
The trademark process now takes 12-18 months, so once you decide you’re ready, it’s best to file your application as soon as possible. It’s also crucial to give your application the best chance of success by doing your research and building a strong case for your brand. The time and effort you invest in getting your trademarks can pay big dividends in the future.
When you’re ready to apply for a trademark (or multiple trademarks), you can go the DIY route or hire an expert. While taking a DIY approach can seem simpler and more affordable, there are potential pitfalls. The trademark process is complicated, and many applications are denied due to incomplete information or inadequate knowledge of the competition.
At Watson & Young, we specialize in helping businesses of all sizes successfully apply for a trademark. Our attorneys know exactly what the USPTO looks for in a trademark application, so we can help you submit an application with a strong chance of success.
We also have an expert team who understands the USPTO process, can address any challenges or questions and can react quickly to their requests so your trademark application continues to move forward.
To learn how Watson & Young can help you safeguard your intellectual property and protect your brand, book a complimentary consultation with our team.