Houston Trademark Lawyers
Legal Tips and Information
Branding Your Business in Houston
Houston is a vibrant city founded on unique startups. In sports, it’s been home to the Oilers, the Texans, the Rockets, the Astros and even to a building called the Astrodome. One of the greatest brands known to all of sports found its start in Houston. It’s now iconic name is synonymous with any synthetic grass field (even your iPhone knows their name!)
Having a good, and hopefully well-known, brand name makes your company easy to recognize and can build a loyal consumer base. You’ll want to advertise while you build your brand and you definitely don’t want someone else gaining from the money you’ve spent marketing your name. When you legally protect your brand name, you can prevent other people from using your brand for their profit. In order to protect your brand, there are a few legal plays that you can choose from. In the case of that world-famous synthetic turf company, they wouldn’t have hit it out of the ballpark without the help of the best trademark attorneys in Houston.
As you build your field of dreams in Houston, you need to make sure your brand is protected. A Houston trademark attorney knows how important branding will be to the growth of your new business and has the tools you need for success.
Helping Your Brand’s Cause
Creating your brand is essential to the success of your new startup. Protecting that brand is just as important. Your brand can be just your name and logo, or it can include symbols, sounds, tag lines and even unique packaging and your website name. A trademark is one play that you can use to make sure your brand and its reputation are protected. To keep competitors from using your brand for their advantage, you’ll want to get help from a trademark lawyer in Houston.
Trademarks can exist simply from using your name or logo in your business. This “common law” trademark protection can establish your brand ownership, but it’s limited in geography and doesn’t give you a lot of protection. A Houston trademark attorney understands how a federal trademark can fully protect your brand because of specialized training and experience. The best trademark lawyers know all the ways to protect your brand and your intellectual property so that your new startup can make it to the big leagues.
Your name, logo and tag line are called intellectual property. They are also important assets to your business. Once you’ve selected a trademark lawyer in Houston, your Houston trademark attorney will explain all of your options to protect these assets, from the common law trademark you might already be using to registered trademarks, service marks and even copyrights. They know the difference between when you can use “™” and when you can use “®”. (It’s important!). The best trademark lawyers in Houston know that in Texas, not only you can register your name, logo and tag line not only with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but the State of Texas provides brand name protection too.
The type of brand protection you’ll need depends on what you plan to use. If you’re looking to use a word, phrase, symbol or logo, you’ll want trademark protection. If you have a unique service that goes along with your big league band name and logo, you’ll probably also look to secure a service mark. Your trademark lawyer in Houston will be your guide through this process and will ask you questions and gather information to put together a plan that will give you a full package of brand protection.
Avoiding Game Ending Errors
After you’ve decided on your name, logo and tagline, even if you haven’t used them yet, your Houston trademark attorney will start with a search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database of millions (yes millions) of records. The best trademark attorneys will be sure to search the Texas Secretary of State records database too, since Texas requires a whole separate and independent application. You’ll strikeout in your quest to protect your brand if you miss this step. It’s your Houston trademark attorney’s job to make sure that your band isn’t already owned by someone else (which could create a major league headache for you), and just as important, to make sure that you haven’t chosen something that is too similar to someone’s existing brand name.
After your Houston trademark attorney has searched all of the records, the next step will be to put together your trademark applications. A federal law called the Lanham Act controls what can be trademark at the federal level and the State of Texas follows those same rules. Your name and logo (and even tag line) has to meet a few basic but important rules. First, you can’t have a name or symbol that is too close to something that’s already registered. “AstroGrass” will likely be an automatic out. Your name also has to be more than just a description of what your brand is, how good it is or where it is located. GoodHoustonFakeGrass would be a tough call. Most importantly, your name, logo or tagline can’t be immoral, deceptive, or scandalous. It’s probably something that you know when you see it, but the best trademark attorney will make sure your name isn’t called foul.
Branding Your Field of Dreams
Once you’ve made sure that you’ve hit all the marks and have avoided errors, you’ll work with your Houston trademark lawyer to file your trademark applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Texas Secretary of State.
There are few different ways to register your trademark of service mark with United States Patent and Trademark Office (Texas has just one). Your trademark lawyer in Houston will know the best way to get your brand the protection its need, since there are forty-five classes of goods and services, with hundreds of sub-classes that might apply to you. If you miss a registration class, your brand name won’t be protected in that area, and that could be a game changer.
Now that you’ve selected all the right classes that apply to your brand name, your trademark lawyer in Houston will help you put together the applications. Not only do you have to complete a lengthy and technical form, you also need to include the exact form of what you’re seeking to trademark, a drawing of what you plan to trademark and 3 examples of your planned trademark in use. These 3 examples need to be actual “specimens”, like samples of the product or tags. If you haven’t yet actually started doing business, your Houston trademark attorneys will help you put together a package that shows your brand in use, and you may need to create prototype brand specimens as part of that process.
After your Houston trademark attorney submits your applications, you’ll be issued a serial number from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The United States Patent and Trademark Office will assign one of their attorneys to examine your application (Texas does the same). This examining attorney may ask you trademark lawyer for additional clarification or information about the name, service or logo you want to register. Once you round all the legal bases, your “mark” as it will be called will be published in the Official Gazette. If anyone has any complaints about your mark they have 30 days to make a complaint. If there are no challenges or complaints during this period and you’ve hit a homerun, your Houston trademark lawyer will help you wrap everything up so that your mark will be officially registered.
Sending Your Brand into Orbit
You and your trademark attorney in Houston have crushed it and your brand was given trademark protection. Now you can use that ® symbol to show ownership of your brand. At the start, federal registration is good for an initial 10 years (5 years for a Texas registration.). Once this period ends, you’ll want to work with your Houston trademark attorney to keep your registrations active by filing renewal affidavits. That will also be a good time to see if there are new classes you should file in or if there are classes that you can drop.
Now that your brand is protected to go the distance, you’ll want to be vigilant to make sure no one slides in to try to make a steal. In addition to keeping an eye on the playing to field to see if anyone else tries to make a pitch at using your brand without your permission, it’s important to watch the internet, too. The best trademark attorney will know that your trademark can help protect you from cybersquatting, too? What’s that you say? Cybersquatting happens when someone registers or uses your trademarked name as a domain name with the intent of making a profit (without you). If this happens to you, there are a few ways to take your trademark back from cybersquatters, and your Houston trademark attorney will know just what to do to call the cybersquatter out.
A Solid Team
You and your Houston trademark attorney will be a strong team for building and protecting your brand. While it may seem simple (and cheaper) to go it alone, or maybe choose one of those $49 on-line solutions, choosing a trademark lawyer in Houston is a better investment in the future of your brand. Just as any team has position players, Houston trademark attorneys will play an important role in your brand’s overall success. The best trademark attorneys are experts in what they do, paying attention to all the details needed to protect you and your brand. Once you draft the right Houston trademark lawyer for your team, your brand will be on the right path to swing for the fences.
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Legal Services Offered by Our On-Demand Houston Trademark Attorneys
Our experienced Houston trademark attorneys & lawyers represent individuals and businesses with everything they need to secure and protect their trademarks. Our attorneys can help individuals with everything from trademark clearance searches to determine whether the desired mark is available for adoption, use, and registration. By reviewing the search reports thoroughly, they can conclusively determine the extent to which a mark is already being used and the potential success of filing a trademark.
Trademark licensing can be complex, but our trademark attorneys have experience drafting agreements on behalf of both licensees and trademark owners - thus allowing you to capitalize on your valuable intellectual property. Our Houston trademark attorneys can also draft and file your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), including Intent to Use and Use in Commerce applications.
Our attorneys can also help protect your trademark around the globe by assisting clients with filing trademark applications under the Madrid Protocol, which allows trademark holders to obtain protection in multiple countries by filing a single application.
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