Did you start a business and create a catchy name and logo? Many entrepreneurs will spend a lot of time and often money to come up with a clever name for a business, an attractive logo, and even a memorable tagline. But what happens when you find that someone else is already using a very similar or even the same name or look for their business or product? Who does that name “belong” to and who has the right to use it to promote and sell their product or services?
If someone has a “trademark” on that name, logo, or phrase, most likely they have the right to use it.
A “trademark” is a form of intellectual property that can be any word, phrase, symbol or design or any combination of those items used by a person or business to identify goods made, sold, or distributed by him/her, and to distinguish them from goods made, sold or distributed by others. While as a business owner, you are not required to register your logo, design or terms that you use to identify your brand of goods or services, there are some important reasons for registering your “mark” in North Carolina.
Why should you register your “mark” in North Carolina?
First, a North Carolina registered trademark is a warning sign or deterrent from someone using your “mark”. It is common for someone to consider the use of a name, logo, or other “mark” starting with an internet search. This search may result in finding your website or social media, which could stop them right there. Alternatively, this search may lead them to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website, where they can perform a rudimentary trademark search. When that happens and your registration comes up, they may decide to pursue a different trademark. Most people have good intentions and are looking for other trademarks because they don’t want to infringe on an active mark. Unfortunately, there are some that choose to infringe on someone else’s trademark no matter what steps you take to register your mark.
Second, the major reason to seek a trademark registration is legal protection from infringement. If someone is encroaching upon your rights within the mark, your trademark registration will enable you to take legal action against them. While this rarely happens due to the costly nature of lawsuits, the registration itself is usually sufficient to dissuade those who may consider infringing upon your trademark.
Another very common reason to register a trademark is that it affords you the ability to enforce your rights, without a costly lawsuit. Many internet companies, such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will help protect a registered trademark. For example, if someone has a Facebook page under a name that is identical to your trademark and you own the registration, then this registration allows you to file an opposition with Facebook. It doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare, and it allows you to alert Facebook to the fact that someone else is using your trademark in their system. Facebook will review it and, in many cases, will side with the owner of the registered trademark and give you the username or page that is using the trademark.
This is true with a variety of internet companies. As the virtual marketplace expands and more commerce moves online, the ability to stop infringement before it goes too far is incredibly useful. Having the ability to contact major companies and ask for their help in removing infringements is critical.
In many cases, if you do not own a trademark registration, there’s not much they can do to help you.
Lastly, trademark registration takes time to achieve registration. This means it is essential to get an application filed as soon as possible to ensure that your mark is as well-protected as it can be. You want to make sure that you have the tools available to be ready to enforce your trademark as soon as needed. If you are interested in getting started with an application, please contact the business law attorneys at Skufca Law at (704) 376-3030.