Business and startup founders spend countless hours and frequently thousands of dollars coming up with the perfect business name and logo. These are integral to a new business, and is the first thing a customer see. These marks build goodwill in the market, and represent the quality of their goods and services.
This can be one of the most valuable assets a business owns, however, many businesses overlook cheaply and easily protecting this intellectual property. Logos, business names, and slogans can be protected nationally by filing a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). To help small business owners, we came up with the top five reasons they need to trademark their business name and logo.
1. Trademarks create immediate value
There are few business assets that not only create immediate value, but grow in value. The more your business expands and improves, so does the value of your brand. Business begin using their trademarks in advertising, on product packaging, and when dealing with customers. Customers associate trademarks with every part of your business, and confusing it with another company can be fatal. A valid trademark can be bought, sold, licensed, and used as a security interest for acquiring a business loan. If a startup hopes to expand, sell, merge, or raise funding, a registered trademark is a must.
For example, Pepsi and their iconic logo grew from an idea to an asset likely worth billions. Without trademark protection, Pepsi would have seen knockoff brands pop up elsewhere, diluting their goodwill and hurting their business. McDonald’s does more than than run their own restaurants: they franchise and license their trademark.
2. Trademarks give businesses a geographic advantage
The biggest problem in waiting to apply for a national trademark is having your logo and name limited to a small geographic area. A startup can have local protection where they operate, but can find out later a national trademark prevents them from expanding. Consider trademarks not just for today, but future plans to expand into new areas and services. Otherwise, you may encounter an expensive and difficult marketing problem.
Lets look at Burger King, a company that has ended up on both sides of geographic limitations. The national giant cannot open stores within 20 miles of the original Burger King in Mattoon, Illinois, an unrelated burger shop with local protection. That small, family-owned Burger King cannot add another location using the name outside of their geographic area. Any business has to be under a different name, preferably with a distinctly different logo.
The national Burger King expanded into Australia, but was stopped from using their name thanks to a previously filed trademark. Despite millions at their disposal, they could not use the name they spent decades building in the United States. They instead sell flame-broiled Whoppers under the name Hungry Jack’s.
3. Trademarks can prevent huge financial waste
Trademarks help businesses get ahead of problems. Many small businesses are unaware of potential problems until they receive a strongly worded demand letter from a company on the other side of the country threatening legal action if they do not change their business name immediately. The letter may ask for thousands in damages, and require thousands in website updates, new business cards, marketing changes, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and of course, the loss of goodwill.
How do you get ahead of this?
Before filing a trademark, an attorney will search the USPTO database for the same or similar business names and logos. If an attorney finds something similar, they may suggest small changes, such as font, color, or the trademarked term to differentiate from the registered mark. The earlier a startup checks on their trademark, the more they could potentially save.
4. Trademarks last forever
You may be aware that intellectual property protections like patents have a shelf life. Drug companies get years to sell their pharmaceuticals before other companies can sell cheaper generics. Trademarks will last until eternity, as long as the rights holders file an occasional renewal form. As far as business investments go, nothing lasts longer and provides more long-term opportunities than a trademark. Pepsi first registered way back in 1896. Trademarks are an asset that live as long as your business.
5. Trademarks are cost effective to file through Spengler & Agans
Spengler & Agans offers flat-rate trademark filings for only $975, including all filing fees. Our qualified attorneys will search the USPTO database, complete all filings, and respond to all questions, requests, and issues raised by the examining attorney for national trademarks. Investing in one of your best and longest-lasting business assets can be inexpensive with our flat-rate services.
If interested in trademarking logos, slogans, or business names for your startup or business, contact our attorneys below.