When customers see your logo or company name, they associate that unique branding with specific attributes such as the quality of a product or the type of service you offer. Your brand has actual value and deserves to be protected to the fullest extent possible under the law. Trademarking different facets of your brand is a critical method of stopping others from using your name or confusing potential customers with similar phrases and imagery.
Why Trademarks Are Important to Safeguarding Your Brand
The point of branding is to create immediately identifiable iconography or slogans that build up a base of repeat customers to help your business thrive. Essentially, your brand consists of distinct features that consumers immediately link with your business and set it apart from other companies. Going through the trouble to legally trademark a brand helps to prevent imitators and competitors from harming what you’ve built.
However, you have to zealously defend your trademark to keep it, which is why you should discuss your brand with an experienced business startup lawyer before making any decisions. A strongly identifiable brand is much easier to defend and makes it more likely a court will side with you if you need to bring legal action against someone for misusing that branding.
Not everything can be trademarked, of course, and there are strict limits on what specific words or images can be protected. You can typically apply to trademark elements of your business like your:
- Brand name
- Tagline or slogan
Creating a Strong Trademark for Your Unique Brand
To guard your brand, you need to apply to register a specific trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A trademark can be registered either at the state level for Louisiana, or instead registered federally to gain international protections for your brand, although the latter option has stricter rules.
In either case, it’s important to perform a thorough search ahead of time to ensure the particular logo or name you want to trademark isn’t already in use by another business. Whatever portion of your brand that you want to protect as your own must also be “strong” enough to warrant trademarking.
For instance, certain extremely common terms and phrases aren’t eligible to be trademarked under most circumstances. Generic descriptive terms are often rejected outright, although they may be accepted in cases where the term is outside the norm. There is a notable exception in cases where the word is arbitrary and not typically used in your specific industry.
For instance, “spaghetti” probably can’t be trademarked for a restaurant or pasta producer, but it could potentially be part of a trademark for a brand in a completely different industry. One of the most famous examples is “apple,” which obviously has been trademarked for a massive global tech company, but would likely be rejected for a fruit business.
In general, the tagline, logo, slogan, etc., needs to be unique and connect the end customer with a key concept or element of your brand somehow. You have the best shot at getting a trademark approved if the word or image is fanciful and unique, or strongly suggests the specific quality of your service.
With your attorney’s help, the application also needs to explicitly list out the goods or services associated with the name or logo, and it must be strictly limited to your specific business type and the sorts of services you offer. If you apply for too broad a trademark covering a wide range of products you don’t actually provide, your application may be turned down, and you will need to start over.
Protect Your Brand With the Help of an Experienced Business Attorney
What facets of your brand to trademark and how you should proceed depends on your specific, unique situation. Your business is different than any other and will benefit from different legal advice than other companies. If you’re ready to take the next step and start protecting the brand you’ve built, get in touch with the Scott Vicknair law firm to schedule a consultation.