A few years back I had a client that had a great idea for a product and reached out to me to try and help her as she received a “cease and desist” letter. She told me she had created a great product, of which she had started production in China and purchased packaging and labels. The entire marketing and packaging investment was now costing her about $150,000.00.
This is where the story takes a very dark turn. My client did not do any due diligence in regards to her brand and chosen product name. No specific real time searches with private providers for existing marks, no DIY trademark research, not even a google search.
Long story short, she received a Cease and Desist letter for the use of the mark, which was held by someone else and even though she did not lose her ideas and product itself, the packaging and labels could not be used. 150K out the window. There wasn’t much I could do except to educate her about trademarks and protecting your brand before you make a large investment in your enterprise.
Always do your due diligence. If you don’t know how, then just contact someone that can help you. A good start as mentioned above, is a mere Google Search. If nothing comes out then you are already on a good path. Next in line is to see if the mark is taken but not yet published. That is a more in depth search and goes through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Keep in mind a mere search sometimes is not all you need, but it’s a starting point. Certain names, words or sentences might not be accepted for one reason or the other and if the name you are looking to trademark is not registered yet, there is always the slight possibility that is because it wouldn’t be allowed to be registered. How to circumvent this? Talk to your lawyer or a trademark expert. They know the ins and outs of the rules and can create a roadmap for you on what brand name to choose and how to protect it.
The research itself is the easy part. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that only someone experienced can help you with and for this reason it is alway suggested you ask an IP Lawyer to help you with your mark. It is more than worthwhile to spend 2K to 5K to make sure you are going down the right path than 150K to realize your brand name is already taken. This will sink most new businesses.
Keep in mind that the USPTO is a national repository and receives a large amount of applications yearly. This could bring delays in showing the current marks available/unavailable. You can surpass this obstacle as well. How? The real time checks for the USPTO cost extra money. Sometimes a lawyer might offer you a service that adds to the cost of the trademark registration, but keep in mind that the extra money spent for the service at the beginning would have saved my client $150,000 down the road!
Do you have any brand you were thinking of trademarking?
Looking forward to growing with all of our dreamers!