vinyl siding installation cement board siding lake bluff installing vinyl siding installing vinyl siding northbrook install vinyl siding algonquin .. Chicago Drug testing

Small Businesses with BIG NAMES: Protect Your Trademarks and Reap the Rewards

You're a small business owner with a hot new product or service and you're deciding what to name it. Perhaps you've even hired a graphic designer to create a flashy logo to go with it. You may have ruled out trademark registration as too expensive or even unnecessary because you only plan to sell in your local area. This article will show why nearly every business can benefit from trademark protection, and how a new option makes professional trademark assistance affordable for most small businesses and entrepreneurs.

There are two excellent reasons to protect a trademark as soon as possible, even for small businesses that operate in a limited area. The first is that a professionally prepared trademark conflict search will help you identify existing trademarks to avoid infringement. Discovering a conflict ahead of your launch will allow you to change names before investing in promotional materials and advertising, and building recognition of a name you may have to change later. The last thing your new business or project needs is a lawsuit during the startup stage.

On the plus side, discovering a conflict may offer an opportunity to create a new name that distinguishes you from existing "brands" and projects your unique value proposition. Speaking of branding opportunities, the second reason to protect your trademark even if you operate in a limited area is to prepare for nationwide expansion of your business. With the shift toward online marketing and commerce, even the smallest businesses are finding larger markets to expand into. Also, registering the mark with the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office gives public notice of your trademark rights, protects the mark nationwide, and discourages infringement with heavier penalties.

Now that we know it's important to protect trademarks, let's examine a new option for professional trademark assistance at significant savings over the traditional law firm fees. A new breed of firms called Trademark Service Providers specialize in trademark research and related services, offering them to small businesses and entrepreneurs without the typical legal fees. While they do not represent clients in court or provide legal advice, they can perform the specialized research necessary to check for conflicts. Some firms also prepare trademark applications and provide ongoing infringement searches. A few providers even offer creative naming services to help clients with the naming process.

In order to appreciate the benefits of using these new services, let's continue with the scenario from earlier. You have selected a name and you are weighing your trademark options. You may have read an article on trademarks that suggested you conduct a "free" online trademark search. Let's briefly examine online conflict searches.

Two of the most popular free trademark searches are the online records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov), and a simple name search using Internet search engines. Unfortunately, these searches can be misleading to those who are new to the subject of trademarks. As we will examine below, these searches are only the first stage of an effective search process. They may uncover obvious conflicts, but as you will see below, they do not reliably answer the question of trademark availability. The same can be said for State trademark registrations and searches. In fact, only a fraction of the trademarks in use are registered with the State and Federal agencies. The remaining marks are unregistered, often referred to as "common law" trademarks.

Common law trademarks are unregistered marks used in business or commerce that receive limited legal protection based on the geographical area where they are used. The absence of a centralized registry documenting these marks complicates the process of conducting a conflict and availability search. Locating common law marks requires an experienced researcher using the latest and most extensive sources, searching literally millions of relevant business and legal records. This is where a Trademark Service Provider can help.

A Trademark Service Provider has access to proprietary search resources with the most current and extensive information, advanced search technology, and the expertise necessary to conduct a diligent and comprehensive conflict search. Due to the existence of common law trademarks, no search results are 100% conclusive. However, the best strategy is to obtain the most thorough search and then begin using and protecting a mark as soon as possible.

If you plan to use a particular trademark but your business has not opened yet, you can file an "intent to use" application to protect it for six months during the development stage. For an additional fee you can extend this period up to two years if necessary.

Trademark Service Providers are part of a growing trend of out-sourced expertise designed for small businesses. In contrast to the more expensive "one size fits all" approach used by big national firms, or the risky alternative of going it alone, a firm that specializes in serving small business owners can be the perfect solution. They offer reasonably priced yet professional-grade services, a capable staff that supports your vision, and the expertise that allows you return to your primary goal of building your dream business. Before you know it, your small business will be creating a Big Name reputation, with the confidence that your trademarks are protected.

John M. Huff is a Trademark Specialist and President of Trademark Partners, a research and consulting firm that helps small business owners create and protect trademarks. He serves clients in Maryland and nationwide. He can be reached at 1-888-MARKABLE (1-888-627-5225) and http://www.TrademarkPartners.com

This article is for information purposes only. It is not meant to be legal advice, and does not replace the services of an attorney.

In The News:

Boat Detailers; Add-on Products and Services

As a Boat Detailing Specialist, you may want to offer... Read More

How to Promote Yourself to Small Business Riches

You've heard it before; we're living in an information age.... Read More

The Business Failed, But Did You?

Q: After years of dreaming about starting my own business,... Read More

A Look at Incorporating a Business in Florida

As you may know, there are many ways to incorporate... Read More

Predicting Business Retirement Satisfaction for Business Owners

Most business owners do not think of selling their companies... Read More

10 Best Practices to Consider as Your SBIR Negotations Approach Contract Signature

10 Best Practices to consider as your SBIR negotiations approach... Read More

Truck Detailing Shop Business Case Study

As an entrepreneur you can learn a lot by following... Read More

Smart PR Tactics for Small Businesses

Small businesses need Public Relations, possibly more than large corporations,... Read More

City Wide Garage Sales: Hidden Riches!

Most of us remember going to at least one garage... Read More

A Key to Success: Be Consistent

Over the years I heard the best way to learn... Read More

Successfully Adding a Service To Your Business

There will come a time in your business where you... Read More

Specialty Advertising in C-Stores

It appears the mini-blimp indoor theme and concept is making... Read More

SBIR - A Nice Add-on Business

If you are a small business and qualify to participate... Read More

Top 10 Rules for Small Business Success

1. TargetYou are not all things to all people. Decide... Read More

Electronic Franchise Disclosure and E-Signature Future for Investors

It has been discussed allowing Franchising companies to electronically disclose... Read More

What is Rule 15c211 and Reverse Merger

Rule 15C211Under SEC Rule 15C211, a U.S. securities broker or... Read More

Collection Agency Selection

Frankly, given the legal and regulatory requirements involved in attempting... Read More

Buying a Business

Start thinking about buying an established business if you want... Read More

Buying a Franchise

Buying a franchise is not for everyone. This guide will... Read More

Do You Own Your Business Or Does It Own You?

What was your aim when you went into business for... Read More

Mission Statements: More Important Than You Thought

If an organization lacks a mission statement, it is worthwhile... Read More

Discover How You Can Start Making Your Small Business Dream Come True

As a teenager I worked for my father's small business.... Read More

Women and Small Business

In the book Women and Small Business author gives all... Read More

Creating a Dynamite Account Plan

Why do you need an account plan?When you first decide... Read More

How To Select a Franchise

Here are some useful tips on how to select a... Read More

innovative induction lighting outdoor wall pack lighting Pete's produce ..
innovative induction lighting outdoor wall pack lighting Pete's produce ..