The Top 5 Mistakes Businesses Make When Going for a Trademark


When it comes to protecting your business, one of the most important techniques is to brand your business via a trademark. It is the number one factor that makes a business stand out from other companies in their industry/niche, but it's also the most important way to protect your own business. However, there are a few pitfalls along the way. Here are the top 5 trademark mistakes businesses make:

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It is very important that you get to know as much as you can about some of the most common trademark problems and mistakes that businesses face nowadays before you get a trademark of your own. It often happens with businesses, especially among startups, that they don’t seek legal help when they decide to file for a trademark, and in the long run, this creates a variety of problems for them.

So, here are some of the top trademark problems that you should be aware of in order not to make a big mistake and face a variety of issues along the way.

1. Not understanding what a trademark covers

For starters, it tends to happen that a business doesn’t really understand the concept of a trademark. This is due to the fact that there are four types of IP protection out there, all of them important in some way. As well as trademarks, which protect terms, logos, symbols, or a combination of these factors, you have also got:

  • Patents - covering one-of-a-kind inventions.
  • Copyrights - there to protect original pieces of work, such as songs, books, films, software, and so on.
  • Trade secrets - information that is hidden from the public and has a good reason to be kept a secret.

Now, the reason why it is very important to know the differences is that you will waste a lot of time if you don’t. For example, copyright might protect your logo’s design, but it cannot do so for any phrases and words that you use along with it. This is where trademarks step in. So if you spend a lot of time trying to copyright what cannot be copyrighted in the first place, you will only end up being refused.

Recommended reading: Building a Brand For Value Creation

2. Not doing research prior to trademarking

This is actually a pretty common mistake among businesses of all kinds, from startups to professional companies. Sometimes you end up being short on time, so you rush the finalisation of your trademark without doing the necessary research before you move into that phase.

The problem here is that, after all the effort that you have put into coming up with the best possible design and registering properly, you may end up finding out that another business is already using one that is very similar to yours. This will, of course, mean that you will not be able to use what you have worked on so hard, and all the time that you have spent will be in vain. So, for starters, I recommend you use a trademark search tool or a website such as Marcaria.

3. Using the wrong symbol

Another mistake that you really must avoid is using the wrong symbol for your trademark. It helps to understand that there are two kinds of trademarks. These are the common law trademark and registered trademark.

If your trademark is registered, then you have the strongest and most comprehensive legal protection possible. Such a trademark uses the circled R symbol. This is crucial to keep in mind, because if you use this symbol for an unregistered trademark, you will be basically committing fraud, and it can get you into a lot of trouble.

The other kind of trademark uses the TM symbol. This means that your logo or brand name can use it without the need for you to register them. You can do this as long as you are not violating anyone else’s rights. Of course, it is also a much weaker kind of protection, which means that you will base your protection on goodwill rather than strong legal grounds.

4. Not understanding the common law trademark and “first in use”

As for the aforementioned common law trademark, it is important to understand that in countries such as the US, the business that uses a particular trademark first is the one that has the rights to it, regardless of whether they have registered it yet or at all.

This is one of the main reasons why you simply have to do your research because there is a high chance that there is a business out there using a similar logo design or a phrase like you, but hasn’t simply registered it yet. While the protection that they have is a lot weaker than having a registered trademark, the law is still on their side, and they can, and most probably will file a lawsuit against you once they find out.

Still, an unregistered trademark has its geographical limitations, so if you are in Australia and the other company is in the US, it won’t really mean much in terms of legal issues. However, it will still mean that people are going to confuse your businesses. So, as previously suggested, do the research and go for the most original branding and logo that you can. Because you want people to trust you and nothing inspired more loyalty than being a unique brand that is highly recognizable and reputable.

5. Not registering locally

If your business HQ is located in Ireland, it is important to understand that you need to register your trademark under local laws. Basically, there is a difference between the process here and in the US. A trademark registered in the United States will not protect your IP rights in Ireland. You need to undergo a registration process via a system such as the Community Trade Marks in Europe.

Unlike in the States where you will instantly have a certain level of legal protection even before registering, in Ireland, being late in terms of taking the necessary steps to secure and enforce your intellectual property before you start promoting/selling your products or services, can get you into trouble real soon.

In summation

Branding your business as a trademark is a crucial business technique. However, when doing so, you need to be aware of some of the mistakes that businesses tend to make, such as the ones that we have discussed in this article. Basically, make sure that you are properly knowledgeable on the subject before you get down to it. Otherwise, you may face a variety of issues along the way.

Over to you now. Have you gone about applying for a trademark for your business? Tell us your experience in the comments below. 

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Thursday, 14 November 2019
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