Tips for Creating Trademarks that Grow with Your Business
Without question, legally protected trademarks and service marks can help your San Diego business grow. That being said, creating, registering, and establishing commercial marks is a matter that requires advanced planning and good business and legal strategies. While you want your marks to help grow your business, you need your marks to expand and grow along with the business. In basic terms, you want your marks to be able to expand into new market areas and niches and that takes advanced planning.
Most of us are familiar with trade/service marks and what they do. A trade/service mark is any symbol or mark in use that identifies a product or service as having a unique commercial source. Marks are everywhere in the marketplace and new ones are constantly being added. A good and successful mark establishes in the minds of the consumer the commercial source and also the qualities of the source such as well-made, long-lasting, environmentally sustainable, and the like. Marks are about loyalty and alignment. Hopefully, the consumer expresses the idea: “I wish to align and support this brand; this type of consuming; this type of commercial and corporate behavior.”
In terms of creating the legal protections for a mark — registration — a mark is not registered for all purposes; a mark is registered for specific uses such general metal fabrication, furniture, toys, clothing and apparel, etc. In addition, a mark must be in use before it can be registered or there must be an intent to use (and different forms and different supporting documentation must be filed depending on which type of trademark you are seeking to register).It is important to understand the differences and find an experience corporate attorney to meet the needs of your business. Moreover, mark registration is in general a “first-to-register” system. If two competing businesses are using the same mark, the first to register the use as a mark is given priority.
This is where advanced planning is needed. A trusted San Diego corporate attorney can help. If your business is planning to expand into new product markets, any trade or service marks must be cleared at the beginning for all expected, anticipated, or contingent categories of uses. Obviously, the expansion plans depend on the success of the original marketing, but pre-planning is cost-effective and essential to sustained and orderly growth. As an example, if you are opening a brewery and are planning, two or three years from the startup, to expand from beer to soft drinks or teas or other types of beverages, make sure your new mark does not infringe on someone’s already existing mark for those uses. In short, make sure any search is broad enough to cover future expansion plans. Confusingly similar marks might be in use in a different part of the country, which may or may not be “okay-for-now” here in San Diego, but that choice might not be wise. Informed choice is the best choice.
Aside from ensuring your mark is available for future categories of uses, advanced planning is needed leading up to the launch. About 18 months to a year before the launch of the new product line, intent-to-use trademark or service mark registrations should be done to ensure that your marks are protected. Again, an experienced corporate attorney can help.
Contact San Diego Corporate Law
If you would like more information, contact attorney Michael Leonard, Esq., of San Diego Corporate Law. Mr. Leonard provides legal services the San Diego business community and can help with intellectual property, private securities offerings/sales, entity formation, the sale/purchase of a business, and mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Leonard can also assist with reviewing and drafting business contracts. Mr. Leonard can be reached at (858) 483-9200 or via email.