Don’t get into hot water doing a Trademark Search on your own. Here’s why.
The #1 question I receive from business owners with a fabulous brand that they want to protect is…
“Can I do a Trademark on my own?”
All month I’ve been saying that Trademarking is all about honoring your brand – and protecting it with #legallove. How best to do that?
Trademarking. It helps to protect YOUR brand ownership. It also can stop OTHERS if they’ve stolen your brand identity, trying to mooch off of you.
Trademarking allows you to receive legal protection from the federal government. It’s designed to help eliminate brand confusion by two similar brands in comparable fields in the marketplace.
But, before you get all excited and dive into filing a Trademark Application, it’s helpful to see if the USPTO is likely to grant or deny your Trademark.
That’s why a Trademark Search is your first step in the Trademarking process.
However, you want to do a Trademark Search in the right way, [FIRST NAME].
Legal Love™ Tip: Be wise and contact an attorney who does Trademarking to help you with a Trademark Search.
Cautionary story… Don’t Trademark alone… like Francis did….
Meet my client Francis (this isn’t her real name for confidentiality reasons, of course).
Francis is a personal chef. She’s opening up a new cafe. She wants to call it “Culinary Creations Cafe.”
Francis heard that she could look up in the USPTO Trademark Database to see if the name she wants to Trademark is already in use.
So Francis sat down at her laptop, went to the USPTO Database, and typed in “Culinary Creations Cafe”.
Much to her excitement, she was thrilled when she saw that NO other results popped up with “Culinary Creations Cafe” in their name.
It appeared to Francis that the name wasn’t taken. (Note: the key word is “appeared”….)
Francis was elated. She proceeded to file her Trademark Application WITHOUT talking with a lawyer first.
But, little did she know… as Julia Roberts says to the sales gal in the fancy store on Rodeo Drive in “Pretty Woman”… BIG MISTAKE. BIG. HUGE!
One day, Francis e-mailed me: “Lisa, the USPTO is saying my Trademark Application can’t go through because it conflicts with another Trademark. I don’t understand how that happened because I looked in the USPTO database first. No other Trademark exists for ‘Culinary Creations Café’.”
A lot of entrepreneurs make the same mistake that Francis did – doing just an “initial search” by looking in the USPTO Database on their own.
Francis had good intentions. She just didn’t realize there’s more to it than looking in the USPTO database on her own.
There are 2 Big Risks to doing a quick, cursory “initial search” on your own:
Risk #1: You can come up short. You can miss potentially conflicting brands which could cause your Application to be denied.
A quick, cursory “initial search” done by typing a name into the USPTO Database can fail to show brands that the USPTO would consider “confusingly similar”.
Risk #2: You may not realize that the USPTO is making a LEGAL analysis – not just reviewing your brand name at face value.
The USPTO looks BEYOND just the words to consider many other factors when approving or denying a Trademark Application, like:
- how you plan to use the brand
- the type of work you do associated with the brand
- how many other Trademarks exist that are the same or substantially similar
- what words are in the brand name that are merely “descriptive” terms
- what Trademark classes are involved
- what the case law has determined
This is why I always say that Trademarking may APPEAR to be simple and easy on the surface… but it’s actually complex and nuanced.
Because so much work must be done on the front end to prepare a Trademark Application, the government (and most lawyers) don’t give refunds if a Trademark isn’t granted.
That’s why I do recommend having a lawyer who is experienced in Trademarking conduct a Trademark Search for you.
Trademarks are one of the ways that you connect your brand to something bigger than you—the greater marketplace—and you create a legacy associated with your business.
It helps you wear the crown for your business by owning the intellectual property rights to your tagline, logo, business or program name.
It gives you an asset with financial value and energetically ups your vibe.
It’s one of the BEST ways I know to protect your brand with Legal Love™.
Here’s to getting legally covered with Trademarking!
Ready to start your Trademark Search? I’ve helped over 70 clients with Trademark Searches and Applications. Get started with Step 1: Trademark Search HERE.