The Three Biggest Challenges of Getting Trademark Protection For Your Brand

When a startup first sets out to build their company, they focus on their brand. Obtaining intellectual property rights in the various components that make up the company’s brand is crucial to being successful. Patents can be sought for inventive new products, copyrights can be obtained on creative new marketing materials, and trademark protection can be obtained on the company’s name, logo and product packaging.

But sometimes startups face challenges when it comes to getting trademark protection for their brand. Three of the biggest challenges startup companies face include:

1. Brand Name Must Be Trademark Eligible

Most importantly, the brand must be trademark eligible. Many startup companies understand the importance of having a good company name, and many build their brand around that name. Customers will come to identify the company and its products or services by that name, so it is important to get it right the first time and have trademark protection for that name. However, not all names are trademark eligible, and it is important for a startup to know this before deciding on a name.

A trademark is a word, name, symbol, etc., that is used to distinguish the goods or services of one company from the goods or services of another. But the name has to be unique in order to obtain trademark protection. Generic trademarks, which refer to generic features of the product or service, as well as trademarks that are merely descriptive are generally ineligible for trademark protection. Rather, the name needs to be unique, fanciful, arbitrary, or suggestive in order to be trademark eligible.

2. Not Making Obtaining Trademark Protection A Priority

Many startups operate on a shoestring budget, and so they cut costs wherever they can. Often times, the startup’s intellectual property budget is trimmed as much as possible to cut down on early-stage costs. This could be a serious mistake with long-lasting consequences. Trademark protection of your brand keeps competitors from taking advantage of your hard work and reputation.

3. Be Clear On Who Owns The Trademark

One challenge that startups sometimes face is knowing who should hold the trademark rights. A founder of the company might file the trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in his or her name. Or the trademark attorney might put the trademark in their name. When this happens, it is important the startup get the trademark rights transferred by the execution of an assignment, to the startup company. Ownership rights are important when it comes time to enforce those rights, or to sell them.

If you have questions about obtaining trademark protection on your brand, or would like to know more about trademark rights, please contact Parsons & Goltry online, or by calling 480-991-3435. We are eager to help you in any way possible.

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- Kathy H., Inventor


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