In 2021, investors and small business owners worldwide filed 13.9 million trademarks. Many people, from venture capitalists to local artists, viewed the pandemic as an opportunity to start a new business and registered new trademarks as part of their branding strategy.
Unfortunately, though, with millions of new businesses being created daily, there is always a chance that someone may accidentally copy your branding or you may mistakenly infringe on another’s trademark. The trademark enforcement attorneys at Trestle Law can help you protect your current business and assist new business owners in devising and protecting their intellectual property (IP) going forward.
What is a Trademark?
It helps to understand exactly what a trademark is to get off on the right foot when establishing your branding. A trademark (or service mark) is any of the following, or a combination of these, that help people identify your particular goods or services.
What’s the Difference Between Trademarks, Patents, and Copyrights?
While trademarks, patents, and copyrights are all forms of intellectual property, there are distinct differences. They each protect different types of intellectual property.
- Trademarks: Trademarks are meant to protect brand names, slogans, and logos that are part of the branding of a business.
- Patents: The goal of a patent is to protect an invention, something unique to the world.
- Copyrights: A copyright is designed to protect a literary work or original art.
All of these are valuable assets to your business and fall under intellectual property law protections.
What is the Purpose of Registering Your Trademark?
Protecting your IP is extremely important. Delaying your trademark registration increases the risk of others using and benefiting from it without your consent.
Your trademarks are vital to helping you establish your footing and build a solid brand. In addition, creating a trademark portfolio enhances the value and reputation of your business while also making it more challenging for would-be competitors to trade in on your achievements.
By registering your trademark, you are being proactive in trademark protection, which can benefit you in several ways. To start, you lessen the chances of counterfeiting by other businesses and halt the infringing of your brand. Registered trademarks are also less likely to be used on sales platforms and online shopping venues such as eBay®.
How to Register a Trademark for Your San Diego Business
To register a trademark, you first want to make sure your trademark is unique. We recommend taking this step to ensure you are not accidentally infringing on someone else’s copyright. Otherwise, you may have to alter or completely redo your trademark later in your application process.
You can register your trademarks at either the state or federal level. While you can search The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the California Secretary of State for registered trademarks, this does not cover unregistered trademarks. At Trestle Law, we can perform a more thorough trademark search on your behalf.
Once a trademark clearance search is complete, your next step is to submit an application. If applying at the state level, you can follow the instructions online at sos.ca.gov. To register a trademark at the federal level, you will need to send your application to USPTO. Information required for this trademark application includes:
- Applicant name (individual, company, partnership, or other legal entity who will be the owner of the trademark)
- Contact name and address for all United States Patent and Trademark Office correspondence
- Trademark depiction (clear image or drawing of the word, phrase, or specialized logo)
- Specific goods or services that will fall under this trademark
- Reason(s) for filing, often being either that you currently use the mark in daily commerce or you intend to use it in the near future
- Filing fee
- For a use-based trademark application, a specimen of how that mark will appear in the marketplace
- Signature of the owner of the trademark
How Do I Protect My Brand Against Trademark Infringement?
Protecting your brand against trademark infringement requires diligence. If an infringement occurs and goes unchecked for too long, the other party can gain certain rights to use the same mark. Another scenario that can cause irreversible damage is the overuse of similar marks, which can weaken your trademark and lower your chances of being able to enforce any rights. In other words, by not actively managing and policing your trademarks, you risk losing them altogether.
You also cannot count on the government to watch out for trademark infringement. As a business owner, you must stay proactive in protecting your brand. Start by setting up Google Alerts for your trademark(s) and review each one that arises for infringement.
Consult with a trademark attorney about what else you can do to monitor your marks. Trestle Law offers trademark monitoring services to help with this, remaining alert to any attempt to register the same mark or one with a likelihood of confusion with the USPTO and more.
Whenever it appears that someone else is infringing on your trademark, you and your attorney need to take immediate action. This can begin with sending a cease-and-desist letter and may even result in trademark protection litigation at some point.
When to Hire a San Diego Trademark Enforcement Attorney
According to the USPTO, hiring an attorney can help you protect your trademark in the long run, so consider working with one early in the process. With access to essential legal advice concerning your trademark rights, the benefits can be numerous should you be accused of infringing on another or if someone is doing it to you.
At Trestle Law, we believe everyone deserves access to sound legal advice and know-how regarding registering and protecting trademarks. A big law firm will often focus on clients with the highest sales or biggest assets to protect while making smaller businesses, entrepreneurs, and local artists feel like a number. Not us!
Whether you have one trademark or dozens, our San Diego trademark lawyers are here to look out for you. We offer the following legal services to protect your business.
State and Federal Trademark Prosecution
We represent clients throughout the registration process with the USPTO. The legal services we provide include clearance searches and application prep and filing. We act as your trademark attorney of record, providing regular updates and promptly responding to any office actions that may follow. If necessary, we also will go before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB).
As for our fees, we offer fixed fee packages with no hidden attorney fees. Choose what you need, or go with the deluxe package, where we cover all trademark services so you can continue to focus on building your business.
Monthly Trademark Enforcement
Trestle Law can help protect your registered or pending trademarks against infringement with our monthly trademark enforcement service. This service includes robust trademark monitoring with top-notch software. With it, we can determine when others infringe upon your trademark and notify you so you can take action immediately. As part of our monthly trademark enforcement efforts, we can also send cease and desist letters to infringers and, if necessary, represent you in litigation.
Cease and Desist
If another business entity or individual infringes upon your IP, trademark owners can send a cease-and-desist letter. Our law firm will start this for you by evaluating the situation and then composing and sending a cease-and-desist letter to the trademark infringer.
For clients who receive a cease-and-desist letter from someone else, we are also here to help. Our legal team will start by thoroughly evaluating your case and any claims made against you. Guided by trademark law, we will then determine what strategy to take next.
With our experience in trademark enforcement, we can initiate litigation on your behalf or defend you should you find yourself in an infringement lawsuit. A key issue often found in trademark litigation is something referred to as the existence of a “likelihood of confusion,” which occurs when consumers in the marketplace mistake a particular brand for another.
Several factors will need to be proven in federal court to show such likelihood exists. Our law firm knows what these are and how to prove or disprove them on your behalf.
Whether you currently do business in more than one country or plan to start, you will want to protect your trademark here in the U.S. and abroad.
At Trestle Law, we can be your contact point when dealing with worldwide registrations. This is helpful because every country has its own laws and rules regarding intellectual property, which most business owners will find difficult to juggle.
Whether you are a San Diego business or originate in another country, find out how we can help.
Trademark Searches and Assessments
Trestle Law utilizes state-of-the-art software to conduct trademark searches and provides reporting and analysis just for you. With this information, you can make a better-informed decision for your business.
In addition, we offer our clients access to strategy sessions with a San Diego trademark attorney. These sessions will help you understand what needs prioritizing when it comes to your trademark portfolio. Filing for every mark you want to use may not be financially feasible, and with a strategy session, we can help you narrow the list down so you can focus on the ones that will benefit you the most.
Trademark Infringement Can Cost You Thousands
We know how important your trademarks are today. They define your brand. In many ways, they make your business who and what it is. Don’t let someone else steal your work, or worse, let your hard work go unprotected.
You put a lot of time and money into creating your brand. Starting from scratch after discovering you are accidentally infringing on another registered trademark can cost you thousands. Conversely, it is also important to protect your identity, and this includes enforcing trademark protections.
To protect your business today, contact the trademark enforcement attorney at Trestle Law in San Diego County to schedule a complimentary consultation. We can help you navigate all the complexities of IP law both in California and nationally!