If you’re wondering if you need a trademark, the answer is yes and no. Your business will have very little chance at competing in its industry if there is nothing distinct about it. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you must formally register a trademark.
That depends on what it is that makes your company so distinctive and what you have to lose if the use of your trademark is unauthorized.
Obtaining a trademark is a bit more complicated than you might think. First of all, you have to make sure the trademark you pick is truly your trademark. This requires intensive research of the trademarks already in existence. Then you must go through the federal registration process and put your trademark into action. So it is a hassle. Is it a big enough hassle, though, that you should avoid it?
There are many benefits to owning intellectual property like a trademark. The biggest one is simply that if someone or some entity uses your trademark without your permission, you can hold their feet to the fire. In other words, it will be hard for people to benefit financially from your trademark. So if you have a commercial product, then there is little doubt that a registered trademark will be a valuable possession of yours.
However, if you don’t have a commercial product or service, it may be a wasted investment. Still, a trademark – in the general, informal sense – is absolutely key to the success of your company. Not only will it help to guide you and your employees toward your ultimate goals, but it’s a great way to make your company stand out from the crowd. This means more investors and customers for you! It’s hard to be a big fish in the pond if you don’t have something that distinguishes you.
The bottom line is: yes, you do need a trademark. The good news is a trademark can be just about anything and you may have one without ever officially recognizing it – through actual use.
Only when you register it will you have to categorize it. A word, image, design, symbol, or a combination of any or all of these – that’s the typical trademark, but anything that obviously distinguishes the source of your products and services from others will suffice. Unless of course you’re infringing on other trademarks by doing so.
So, once you’ve got your trademark, should you register it? There’s little reason not to. After all, when you register your trademark, you’re giving it power. Power in court, if you should ever be so unfortunate to end up there. Unregistered trademarks are honored by the law as well but it’s just more difficult to protect them.
Good luck creating your trademark or acknowledging the trademark you already have.