Protecting Your Company’s Trademark – Yes, You Have a Trademark

Every company has some sort of trademark – a name, logo or slogan – something which is worth protecting to distinguish your company’s goods and services from another company.

You should protect your trademark, because it’s an integral part of growing your brand. Consumers often recognize your products and services and make purchasing decisions based upon your mark. So, if another company uses a similar trademark, it can cause confusion. The consumer may become unsure about who’s offering the product or service. Your company potentially can lose customer loyalty and profits because of trademark infringement.

So, how can you protect your trademark?

Use It
Unlike patents, trademarks can be renewed forever. Therefore, you need to use it or you could lose it. Also, you need to include the trademark sign (the ® symbol for federally-registered marks, TM for common-law trademarks and SM for common-law servicemarks) regularly on your products, packaging and marketing materials – particularly in prominent places.

Prevent Your Mark from Becoming a Generic Word
You can lose your trademark if it becomes a generic word for a type of product. That’s what happened to “aspirin,” “nylon” and “corn flakes.” To keep this from occurring, use your trademark as an adjective rather than a noun – for example, “Buy Band-Aid adhesive bandages.”

Monitor for Infringements
Consistently watch your competitors for use of trademarks similar to yours, so you can act quickly to stop infringement. Use Google Alert or other search engines to do the monitoring, or hire a trademark search firm to do the monitoring for you.

Go After Violators
If you want to protect your mark, you’ll need to pursue violators. Granted, this may depend upon your company’s budget and resources. However, you may lose your legal right to your trademark if you don’t take action and ensure the violator stops using a similar mark.

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