If you’ve taken the time and effort to develop a business, and you’re ready to launch it, it’s important that you understand the rules around trademarks. If you accidentally, or otherwise, commit a trademark infringement, it could end your business before it begins. To avoid the damaging and expensive consequences of trademark infringement, it’s important that you conduct proper research and trademark your business properly. Here’s what you can do to avoid trademark infringement.
The first and most obvious step is to understand trademarks and how the process works. It’s important to understand that while the laws overlap, a trademark is different from a patent or copyright.
According to IP Australia, a trademark is “a way of identifying a unique product or service.” While it can be a logo, it can also be a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture, movement, an aspect of packaging, or a combination of these.
Trademark infringement occurs when two or more businesses have trademarks which are too similar.
Research your idea
The best way to avoid trademark infringement is to be sure that your idea is unique from the outset. The first step is to simply Google search the business name you want to use. Look at as many results you can, ensuring your idea won’t encroach on any existing businesses. Do this with everything you’re looking to trademark, including your business name, logo and designs.
After you’ve conducted your initial research, you can probably move forward with your trademark venture. The next step is to seek out a specialised trademark lawyer. LegalVision, for example, is an online law firm that specialises in trademark registration.
Trademark lawyers can conduct proper research and can help guide you through trademarking your brand. Not only do trademark lawyers help ensure you’re not infringing on any existing trademarks, but they will also ensure that the trademarking process is conducted properly, and your intellectual property is protected.
It’s more than just looks
One of the main purposes of trademarks is to avoid customer confusion. Trademarks can be judged on both sight, sound and meaning. This means that names and logos that aren’t identical can still infringe upon existing trademarks.
Because of this, it’s best to avoid business names that are similar to existing businesses. There was a well-documented case of Victoria’s Secret v. Victor’s Secret. In this case, Victoria’s Secret filed a complaint against Victor’s Secret for trademark infringement based on dilution. Victoria’s Secret successfully argued that Victor’s Secret could create a negative impression for customers by sounding similar.
Trademark law not only protects brands from confusion, but it also protects brands and their reputation from being damaged or lessened by other brands.
Is it too late to avoid infringement?
Sometimes businesses start out without considering trademarks. At first, they think it won’t matter as they operate on a local business. However, as things grow, it might become apparent that your brand might conflict with other trademarks. This is a common problem that many businesses face and waiting to see what happens won’t help you.
The best way to approach this situation is to be proactive and in control. Contacting your lawyer and finding the best approach is important. If there are potential trademark issues, you may have to consider rebranding, or you could try buying the trademark from the owner. Rebranding might be expensive, but it’s important to keep in mind the costs of infringement.
Trademarks are legal marks that protect a company’s intellectual property, specifically signs that are used in association with brands and products. Not understanding trademarks, or failing to register a trademark can cause big, expensive issues later down the track. The 5 tips above will help you to avoid trademark infringement and protect your intellectual property.