- A trademark is more or less strong depending on its uniqueness.
- Failure to enforce trademark rights thoroughly will lead to loss of distinctiveness and weakening of an owner’s marks.
- If you’re not consistent in using the mark, you weaken it since consumers will be unlikely to recognize the mark associated with your products.
Small businesses, individuals, and even large companies are usually guilty of making trademark mistakes that compromise a mark’s uniqueness and exclusivity. Most of these mistakes are entirely avoidable, but committing them can lead to loss of trademark rights or even force a company to shut down. Here are the five common pitfalls to avoid when selecting a trademark and using it for your business.
1. Choosing a Generic Trademark
Generic trademarks are commonly used to name services or products, for instance, a brand of dresses called “dresses.” These types of marks do not qualify for any protection since anyone has the right to use them. It would make all business owners have a hard time describing their goods and services without infringement.
However, you can combine a generic mark with other words to have the trademark approved. It’s also important to understand that a trademark is more or less strong depending on its uniqueness.
Additionally, trademark owners should never use their trademark as a noun or a verb since it’s at risk of becoming generic. You could respond to a Trademark office action which may be legally challenging to overcome.
2. Not Conducting a Trademark Search
Trademark searches are an essential part of trademark ownership, yet most companies fail to carry them comprehensively. It’s essential to be fully aware of how these searches should be carried out and the times at which they are required.
A trademark search is not only limited to using keywords in online searches, it’s used for so much more. Also, a trademark search should not be viewed as important during the preliminary search before the registration of a new mark.
Of course, this purpose is critical, but trademark searches can also be crucial during the term of your mark to avoid potential infringements. You also protect yourself against the potential revocation of your mark.
When it comes to carrying out your trademark searches, you can choose to expedite it to an external service provider or conduct these searches in-house.
3. Not Enforcing Trademark Rights
Trademark owners should always protect their trademark(s) from the misuse (i.e false advertising, blurring, and unfair competition) and infringement that may harm the owner’s business reputation and goodwill.
Failure to enforce trademark rights thoroughly will lead to loss of distinctiveness and weakening of an owner’s marks. In case of any infringements, trademark owners should evaluate, investigate, and assess relevant factors such as the likelihood of confusion, third party’s ownership, and priority of use.
4. Not Using the Trademark Symbol Or Using the Wrong One
When you decide on a mark, ensure that you present the mark consistently right from the get-go. If you’re not consistent in using the mark, you weaken it since consumers will be unlikely to recognize the mark associated with your products. It will also be good to set up a brief written style sheet to guide your contractors and employees on the best way to display their mark.
Here are some things to always keep in mind:
Is the mark one word or several words? Will you use an apostrophe, dash between the parts or space? Decide on the best way to punctuate the mark and always stick to it.
It’s always important to be consistent in typography to establish a mark that people can associate your business with.
Decide on the generic term for your product and use it consistently. For instance, if your product is a Breezay ™ urban clothing, ensure that “urban clothing” is the phrase you always use.
Even though the color isn’t really part of the mark, it’s always essential that you stick to the specific color(s).
Consistency is vital when you decide to physically put your mark on the product since it serves as identification. It could be on your advertising campaigns or your website. On web pages, it’s common practice to put the logo in the upper left-hand corner of the pages.
5. Waiting Too Long to Register
New businesses, services, and products come up every day, and all of them have a particular brand. The marketplace is increasingly crowded, and business owners are using intriguing ways to create new brand names.
This is why it’s always important to act fast when it comes to registering a trademark since you risk losing the mark to someone else. Common law rights can only protect when you can show you were the first to use the mark; and this can be tough. If you’ve spent a considerable amount of money on manufacturing, branding, and designing, you may have to start from scratch.
Whether you’re in the process of starting your business or if it’s up and running, it’s never too late to start the trademark registration process. However, if you want to get protection for your mark now and well into the future, always avoid the common trademark mistakes.