As a small business owner in Minnesota, you may have developed a brand name or symbol that serves to distinguish your company or product from competitors. Whether you’ve taken the time to register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or you have not followed through with this step yet, there are actions you can take to protect your trademark from potential infringement. Here are a few simple ways to ensure that your trademark remains protected and prevents other parties from diluting your company’s value.
First, you should make sure that your trademark is original. Try to design your mark by keeping it as distinctive as possible, avoiding potential confusion with other existing marks. The USPTO allows you to run a quick search through their trademark database to determine whether your trademark shares similarities with existing marks. At this phase, you may also consider enlisting the guidance of a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney to ensure your trademark is distinct enough to register.
If you are still at the stage of picking a name for your product, service, or business, think it through. The more obvious the name you choose, the harder it will be to protect. As the USPTO points out on its website, for example, you can’t get trademark protection if you use the word “bicycle” as the name of the bicycle you sell. But naming your computer company “Bicycle” would probably be fine (as long as no one else did it before you) because it jumps out as unusual or distinctive.
Register and Monitor Your Trademark
Working with an intellectual property attorney is the most straightforward way to complete the official trademark registration process. Once you’ve registered, you will be in a stronger position to defend your trademark against infringing activities. It’s a good idea to monitor the use of your trademark regularly, checking to see if other brands or companies are using your trademark for their own gain, ultimately diluting your brand and diverting customers away from you. Talk to your attorney about the best strategies for monitoring your trademark.
Taking Legal Action Against Infringement
If you suspect that an infringing party is using your trademark – or something that is confusingly close to your trademark – you need to act on it. Discuss your concerns with your IP attorney right away. Together, you can discuss the most appropriate course of action to stop this infringing activity. A lawyer may be able to negotiate a quick resolution. And if the infringer won’t agree to stop voluntarily, your lawyer can ask a court to step in. Depending on the specifics of the situation, you may be able to sue the infringing party for financial damages caused to your business because of their actions. As soon as you suspect another party of trademark infringement, contact your IP lawyer to determine the most strategic path forward.
Learn more about defending your trademark by calling Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074 to discuss your concerns with an experienced and friendly Minneapolis IP attorney.