5 trademark protection tips for startups

5 trademark protection tips for startups

Developing a protective IP strategy is critical for new companies. Maximising the value of a trademark is especially important for startups which have modest budgets.

More importantly, startups have a small number of marks, and as such, each mark is more important and has a greater impact on the public.

Here are some trademark protection tips for startups:

1. Choose a highly unique brand name to avoid registration objections

While it is important to choose an exciting name that you like and resonates with your products and services, you have to consider maximising the chances of registration.

Marks that are too generic or descriptive cannot be registered. Brands that include a location name may face objections and, if accepted for registration, they’d be granted with limitations such as disclaimers or goods or services’ restrictions.

2. Research your trademark eligibility to avoid infringements

Many entrepreneurs face devastating trademark infringements after they’ve already chosen a business name, set up a website, prepared promotional materials, and started making sales. When infringement happens, there is no choice but to begin the time-consuming and expensive rebranding process all over.

Conduct a trademark eligibility search in your particular trademark class(es). The search will reveal if there are any other similar or identical prior trademarks belonging to third parties which may hamper your trademark registration.

3. Registration is important and should not be delayed

As a startup owner, you might not see trademark registration as a top priority. However, your trademark is an asset, despite being an intangible one. Proper registration will give you the right to stop third parties from using and/or registering identical or similar marks.

So when should you take action?

File an application before you use it in public. Take into account that it may take months to obtain a trademark registration – even longer in countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Remember, the hard work you put into building your brand will go to waste if another company claims your slogan or symbol and as their own. Begin the trademark registration process immediately. It’s not as difficult or expensive as you would think.

4. Seek the help of a trademark agent

An expert in the field will advise you on which aspects of your business require IP protection; namely trademarks, designs, and copyrights. An agent’s responsibility is also to help you avoid possible objections which saves you time and money.

Keep in mind that it’s not complicated to file a trademark. However, it is important to choose the best version of the mark (black and white or colour, wordmark, device mark or combined mark), select the correct class(es), and list the proper goods and/or services.

Furthermore, once filed, the presentation of a trademark cannot normally be changed, and classes, goods, and services cannot be added. It is therefore critical to anticipate where your business will be in the next couple of years.

5. Respect the rights of others

To reduce the risks of infringing on third party trademark rights in a specific country, conduct trademark availability searches and register your trademark without delay.

As an entrepreneur or business owner, you need to be cautious about building your reputation in the industry. Legally securing your chosen trademark is perhaps the best thing you can do towards protecting your brand and growing your business.

For a wider perspective, you can read about branding in the digital age and the role of trademarks.

At intellect, we help businesses register their trademarks. Do get in touch if you need help in building a strong trademark portfolio.

You can also visit our website to know more about our services.