Some of the Trademark Mistakes Your Start-Up Must Avoid

17 Apr 2022

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Some of the Trademark Mistakes Your Start-Up Must Avoid

 

OVERVIEW

A start-up company should consider various aspects while registering its trademark. There are some common trademark mistakes that a startup entrepreneur would make with respect to a trademark. To enjoy the benefits of trademark registration, make sure that you avoid the following mistakes that will be cited below in the next section. Every business in the world is working literally hard for the attention of its audience, which will identify you by the name of your brand. Given how valuable brands of successful business grow to be, it’s not just logical, it’s imperative. Yet, many start-ups delay trademark filing or vastly under think it, which could lead to significant losses. If you’re building a business, think seriously about the ambition you have for your brand. When you’re ready to register your trademark and you should do so sooner rather than later- the potential size of your brand will determine a lot. Here are 4 mistakes with examples of start-ups whose trademark missteps have affected their brand. Trademarks allow business owners to distinguish their product or service from others and make it easy for consumers to recognize their offerings. Considering how critical this is for a business, avoiding common trademark mistakes can be highly valuable if you are a business owner with creative or unique offerings.

 COMMON TRADEMARK MISTAKES

  1. Delayed Filing

The start-ups life is busy as always. But not that busy that someone cannot file the registration process of trademark on time.  While it will only be registered two years later (bureaucracy works, but slowly), you can start using the TM symbol within three days. Yet, many start-ups, including large ones, delay this, assuming it’s unimportant. But remember that if some other business trademarks the name, slogan or logo you thought was yours, you may have to bid it goodbye, depending on the strength of its claim to the name.

For example, if you have a Car rental business in Delhi with plans to start services nationwide, and another business, selling t-shirts across India, trademarks your name before you do, your brand may be locked into Delhi. You may wonder how likely it is that another company would come up with the same name. It probably is rare, but instead of taking  such risk get a trademark which cost just ₹6,000.

 A trademark gives you rights over the use of specific images, words and designs. However, these rights are limited unless you register you trademark. As this article explains, registering a trademark is not required, but it does have a significant benefits. When you register your mark, you make it easier for the public and other businesses to see your trademark and avoid using the same one.

Further, registration makes it easier to file for protection in other countries and take legal action against parties that use your trademark without your permission.

  1. Local Mindset

The social network Pinterest, even after clearly becoming a global brand, files a trademark application in the US only in 2012, two years after it began operations. By then, a relatively little- known media start-up named Premium Interest trademarked the name in all of Europe and Australia. Pinterest is trying to change this, by providing that they have been present in these locations, but even if it eventually works, all the effort would not have been needed if they’d just trademarked the name earlier.

Given that they raised $225 million in early 2013 to expand globally, they obviously had plans to do so much before. If they can’t get the brand name, how will this affect their valuation, given they can’t use the brand name in Europe and Australia? So, the takeaway is that businesses should protect what they’re building, particularly if it’s valuable before another business can get in the way.

  1. Neglecting your Trademark

Neglecting a trademark is another common mistake, as people do not always realize they must maintain it. Maintaining your registered trademark involves:

  • Continuing to use it in commerce.
  • Completing maintenance documents after five years.
  • Paying the required fees on time.

Failure to do these things can mean losing your trademark rights.

  1. Using an Established Name

The very fact that you’re trade marking a name means that you are aware that a brand holds some value. So using an established brand name, even though the brand doesn’t operate in India, isn’t the smartest move.

In China, this may even work in your favor (trademark squatting is a big business there, as the country rigorously follows the first-to-file system), but in India, as we follow the common law system, it won’t work., for example, the case between the international clothing brand Zara and the restaurant Zara Tapas Bar in Chennai.

The latter filed for a trademark in 2005, when Zara decided to oppose the application and has continued to oppose it even after the restaurant declared that it would not confine itself to the restaurant business and use only the composite mark (the logo, with the text included, rather than the word).The courts have sided with the international brand, which has been able to show that it has had an existence in India since the mid-80s through contracts with exporters. Generally, if a brand can show that it was using a word, logo, or slogan in commerce in a given area before any other business, the courts will give it the right to use that trademark. So when picking a trademark, you must ensure that you’re not stepping on the toes of a big brand that can enter the Indian market.

 

 

  1. Infringing on someone else’s trademark

Before you start using a logo, design or name for your business, it is crucial to conduct research to ensure you are not infringing on someone else’s trademark. If you infringe on someone else’s trademark you may receive a cease-and-desist letter that prohibits you from continuing to sell any goods or services with the trademarked material. This action can result in costly losses stemming from redesigns, repacking and renaming. Further, you could face legal action that results in a court order to pay considerable damages.

 

  1. Not monitoring your Trademark

Having a trademark does not necessarily stop others from infringing on it, intentionally or accidentally. Thus, holders should monitor their marks. You can do this by running internet searches to look for possible infringement, setting up alerts and checking the official website for similar trademark applications.

Failure to monitor your trademark can increase the likelihood of infringement and potential financial losses. If you use a trademark in your business, avoiding these mistakes can be crucial in protecting your rights and avoiding messy legal disputes.

  1. Being Narrow-Minded

Trying to avoid expenses while dreaming of building a big business is not a good approach. If you want to build the business of your dreams, it’s going to cost you until it gives you the returns you always knew were there. Entrepreneurs should, therefore, be keen to register their brand name for all sectors (called classes, of which there are a total of 45) they plan on entering.

The government treats this as a separate application, and, therefore, you need to pay ₹4,000 in fees for each one, but a single legal battle over a trademark would cost you multiple times what a trademark application will. So, let’s say you’re running an e-commerce business and soon believe that you will have your own brand of clothing that you will market via the website. If you plan on using the same brand name, which is likely, you’ll need to register your trademark under classes 24 and 25 (related to clothing and textiles), too.

Entrepreneurs and business owners who have just started with their business must avoid the above trademark mistakes. The above tips offered would help to choose the right brand name for your business. The inputs mentioned above can help to make your startup business popular and attract new potential customers.

 

  1. Avoiding the Basic Words

For instance, you should avoid using the term “Milk” in your dairy product’s name. Alternatively, call your excellent bonding product “Glue.” A generic term is non-distinctive, and trademark experts believe non-distinctive trademarks are unenforceable in court.

 

  1. Using the TM Symbol Incorrectly

This sign is intended to let others know that you believe the term you’re using is your trademark. This will grant you common law rights in some nations. However, this does not imply that the mark is legally protected and that you may sue anyone who uses it infringingly. If that’s what you mean, you won’t be sued for it. The use of TM isn’t usually considered a fraudulent trademark assertion. In conclusion, you are free to use it in any way you see fit.

 

  1. Don’t Ignore Trademark Ownership

 Is the trademark registered in your name, your attorney’s name, or the name of your company? Get it clear and to the point from the start. If this isn’t obvious, problems will arise if and when the brand or trademark is sold in the future. Who is compensated for it?

 

  1. Don’t Ignore Legalities

The trademark registration office may send you an office action letter throughout the registration process. You’re going to get into problems if you file it away and forget about it. An office action letter indicates that your trademark application has a problem or issue. You should react very away or have your attorney respond right away because if you don’t, your application will be abandoned.

 

  1. Watch Language

If the notion of utilizing a filthy term or phrase for your trademark has had you all worked up, empty your mind, take a deep breath, and relax. Although you may believe you live in a time where anything goes, there are still certain legal restrictions on the use of profanity, obscenity, and other “vulgar” terms and phrases, as determined by the court. After all, do you want your business to be marketed by lowlifes?

 

  1. Naming Your Company Based on Its Location

For small businesses, it’s common to choose trademarks based on where they operate. Such naming may help attract local clientele, but the name can become a barrier to future growth. It’s possible to overcome this problem: Minnesota Manufacturing and Mining became 3M and Kentucky Fried Chicken is known internationally as KFC. But when developing trademarks, think about all the potential global markets you might eventually want to reach, advises Davis.

 

  1. . Letting the Name Grow Too Long

The more characters in your naming and branding, the less likely consumers will remember your company. Startup attorney Steve Cook points to successful one- or two-word company names: Apple, Amazon, Wal-Mart. “Even PricewaterhouseCoopers doesn’t use its full name, but goes by PwC,” he says. When thinking of trademarks, brevity is key.

  1. Using Forgettable Wording

As more and more media and advertising channels pop up, trademarks that stand out from the crowd become more and more important. You might be able to get away with a generic name if you’re the first company in a category, says Davis. But unless you’re the next General Motors or General Electric, you need to use words that separate your company from the competition. By taking the time to write and develop branding that is unique and memorable, you can carve out a niche that no one else can touch.

 

 

 

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