If you are starting a business, then you must read this post. I can’t tell you how often this happens that business owners rush head long into creating their business and in the excitement they overlook some very important items along the way. Great advice from a fellow Mommy Esquire!
As an IP attorney, I do not get many truly sad calls – death and crime are not on my day to day roster. But, on a business front, one of the saddest calls I get is when a business has opened its doors, bought its signage, created its collateral material, filed its corporate papers, and then they get a cease and desist letter telling them to stop using their chosen trademark. It is fairly devastating and can literally put someone out of business right out of the gate. Here are three things you should do before getting into that situation:
1. Perform a trademark search on Google and at USPTO.GOV (the United States Patent and Trademark Office search engine). If it is too confusing or difficult, then hire someone to do it. You literally should put your potential trademark in a Google search engine and find out who else out there is using the same name. If your potential mark is used in connection with related goods or services by another party, then you probably should not use that mark.
2. Obtain the domain name associated with your potential mark. If it is taken, this should be a sign that someone is using the mark and you should check that out. If it is available, buy it (under your name) and buy variations.
3. Consider filing a trademark application. While prior use in commerce could trump the use of a future user, having your mark registered provides notice to third parties who may start using the same mark. This could prevent many future hassles!
I hope you are not my next sad call! Pick your name wisely, research thoroughly!
Tina Loza is an IP attorney and has offices in Orange and Ontario. Tina and her husband own a law firm together and have three awesome boys age 6 and under. Tina is also NAWBO-CA’s President-Elect, an avid reader, a frequent speaker, and is passionate about supporting business owners! You can learn more about her firm here.