When investing the time and energy in starting up your business or developing a new product, it is important to make sure you can realize the profits you deserve. One way to ensure that others do not take your hard-earned profits is to ensure that your brand is distinguished from others already in the market and then to protect it from competitors that might come into the market later. One way to protect your brand and enhance your marketing is by registering a trademark (words or symbols) which people can use to identify your business with its products. There are several steps that must be taken before registering your potential mark.
Steps to take prior to registering a trademark
First you need to determine whether your chosen mark is one that can be legally protected. For example, you will not be able to register merely generic terms and you may not be able to register a mark that is similar to an existing mark.
Second, you need to consider the strength of the mark and how easily it can be protected. For example, arbitrary or fanciful marks are strongest and descriptive marks might not be registerable. Generic terms will not be protectible as trademarks.
Third, you will need to know exactly what products or services will be sold bearing the mark. This will not only assist in the evaluation of the mark, but will also determine the fees the government will charge.
Fourth, you will need to determine when the mark was first used and whether it has been used in commerce yet (note that you do not have to be using the mark yet) – this will determine the filing basis for the mark.
A competent, U.S.-licensed attorney can help you with each step in this process once you have selected some options for your mark. If you are interested in learning more about trademark law you may want to seek the assistance of an experienced trademark attorney.