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Avoid These Major Mistakes And Protect Your Trademark

You've started a new business and you've spent days, weeks, or even months agonizing over your new company's trademark. You expect your trademark to visually connect your product or services to your business, communicate the value of your company to potential customers, and help you gain and retain the loyalty of your clients. That makes your trademark vitally important. Avoid making these common mistakes with it. 

1. Believing in the "poor man's trademark" symbol.

Simply putting a "™" next to your trademark won't stop someone else from applying for federal protection of the same trademark -- and getting it. The small "™" symbol simply puts your competition on notice that you consider something to be your trademark. If you want full federal protection and exclusive rights to your trademark, you need to go through the process of filing with the U.S. Patent And Trademark Office.

2. Forgetting to research existing trademarks before you apply for yours.

You absolutely have to research any past and present trademark use in order to make sure that your trademark isn't infringing on someone else's rights. A trademark search can extremely time-consuming. Not only do you have to check for any use of the same trademark, you also have to make certain that your intended trademark doesn't come too close to a similar trademark in the same industry. For example, you can't get the trademark "Koke" for your new cola and you won't be able to use "Zeerox" for your new copy machine.

3. Not trademarking your tagline as well.

Sometimes you come up with a brilliant little slogan that works as a great tagline alongside your trademark. Taglines can - and should - be protected through the same process as your trademark.

4. Not checking for the available domain.

Today's commerce thrives and dies by technology, so you want to make sure that there is a website domain available that will reflect your trademark. Ideally, you want your trademark name plus ".com" to be available. Since that was the original domain designation used for commercial businesses, it has become the default domain extension in most people's minds. A ".net" extension is a far less common alternative (which also makes it less preferable).

Consulting with a patent and trademark attorney early in the process of registering your trademark is the best way to protect your idea. An attorney can help you make sure that your trademark does what it needs to do to identify your brand, demonstrate how you use it in association with your services and products, and make sure that it complies with all the applicable laws. This can prevent a lengthy (and costly) court battle down the line.