By Liz Oliner
It’s no surprise that launching a business feels like building a plane while flying. Despite some turbulence, you’ve been able to get your business off the ground with just the essentials, like having a memorable name.
But keeping your business flying high as your now midsize company gains momentum
is going to take some reinforcements. Specifically, you’ll need a plan to address trademark issues and maintain your brand as your business gains traction.
In the early stages, you took steps to legally protect your brand. Trademarking your business name and logo helped you lay the foundation to grow your business, distinguish yourself from competitors, attract investors and more. But as with the nature of any growing business, change is constant. As your business grows and expands its marketing reach, you need to stay on top of legally protecting your brand, especially in the digital age.
Here are some trademark matters you need to stay on top of as a midsize company:
Trademark New Product Names, Logos and Marketing Tag Lines
Trademarking your business name at the launch of a company isn’t an umbrella to protect future brand assets. [tweetthis]Trademarking your business name at the launch of a company isn’t an umbrella to protect future brand assets.[/tweetthis]
Remember that plane you’re building in mid-flight? The basic structure of your business is still evolving, and at the same time, the flow of income, resources, manpower and technology is bolstering your operations to expand your product line and marketing reach.
Trademarking your business name at the launch of your company isn’t an umbrella to protect future logos, product names, marketing slogans and other branding assets. Each brand asset needs its own trademark registration.
As a midsize business owner with more money in your pockets, maybe you’ve decided to update the font of your company logo. Perhaps the product that your R&D team has been working on for the past couple of years is ready to have an official name. Or through a series of trial and error, you’ve refined your company mission statement, and you want a new brand slogan or marking tag line that better reflects your company values.
For example, let’s say you’ve developed new taglines or slogans to market your expanding product line, but without trademark protection, your competitors could use that same language to promote their own products – and legally, they wouldn’t be out of line.
The trademark registration approval process can take as long as four months so companies need to register sooner rather than later – at least three months before a new product launch.
It’s important to know that your trademark is getting approved before you launch your product.
You should trademark your new marketing slogan, graphic or product before you launch it.
[tweetthis]You should trademark your new marketing slogan, graphic or product before you launch it.[/tweetthis]
Police & Enforce Your Trademark Rights
It’s no secret that the digital landscape has transformed the way companies build their brands. Your social media marketing and online communities are thriving, but the expansion of your digital footprint can make your brand assets vulnerable. Without legal protection, it’s possible for other businesses or individuals to download and manipulate your brand graphics or images from your social media platforms or website.
Conducting business in the digital age brings a slew of trademark-related issues, and among them is the need to constantly police and enforce your trademark.
While that trademark you filed legally excludes others from using similar words, logos or other images of your brand to promote their companies, you must proactively police the web and identify brand infringement. Otherwise, your ownership of your brand is at risk.
A common web-related trademark issue is cybersquatting or domain squatting – when an individual or a business claims a website address that’s the same or identical to an established brand with the intention of selling the domain for a profit.
Businesses must police the web to make sure they’re policing and enforcing their brands.
[tweetthis]Businesses must police the web to make sure they’re policing and enforcing their brands.[/tweetthis]
That’s why it’s important to stay vigilant about your online footprint. Some companies assign an employee with the sole job of policing the web for cases of trademark infringement, such as a social media page that is unofficially representing the company and passes those cases of infringement to a lawyer to handle.
An experienced trademark lawyer can police and enforce your trademark rights across social media and the Internet.
Enforcing a trademark is generally much easier to do than filing a lawsuit.
Working with a lawyer who knows how to best approach trademark infringement claims on various websites and third party social media sites is often a cost effective way to police your brand.
Although your startup is well off the ground, you’re not ready to coast off into the sunset. Achieving your company vision takes navigating the ups and downs of business growth. From legally protecting your company name to maintaining your trademark rights through enforcement, a trademark lawyer can help you confidently scale your business.