The trademark registration process can be long, tedious, and confusing, particularly for new entrepreneurs and those who have never previously dealt with intellectual property (IP). You’ll have many rules to follow, extensive documents to file, and numerous deadlines to pay attention to.
You also need to be sure to avoid making mistakes on your application paperwork because doing so can lead to frustrating consequences. As a result, it’s beneficial to hire a trademark attorney to help you. Read on for some tips on how to hire a reputable person to help you protect your venture.
What are Trademarks?
Trademarks are a specific type of intellectual property used to identify and distinguish one business from another, whether from a branding point of view or regarding products or services. For a trademark, applicants must submit paperwork to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It takes around 12 to 18 months to learn if your trademark has been accepted. Before applying, though, it’s necessary to ensure that the rights you seek are available.
Trademarks can protect everything from pictures, shapes, smells, and sounds to packaging, brand names, logos, words, phrases, domain names, product names, and more. The point of getting a trademark is to protect others from using the same or similar marks and to give you legal rights if they do. Trademarks also help build credibility for your business and can provide extra income if you license your protected IP to other ventures or individuals.
Why Should You Use a Trademark Attorney?
A trademark attorney can help you in numerous ways. They can make an often long and confusing process more manageable and ensure you don’t make mistakes on your application or miss deadlines. They can conduct trademark searches for you to determine if the trademark you want is unique and available to be registered.
They can also handle all the trademark registration steps, including filling out paperwork, responding to correspondence from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, addressing objects to your application, and helping you understand foreign trademark laws. You’ll also want to use a trademark attorney if you know someone has used your trademark without permission, which is known as trademark infringement. Furthermore, you should use a lawyer specializing in this area to defend yourself and your business if someone accuses you of infringing on their intellectual property.
Tips for Selecting a Trademark Attorney for Your Business
You can find a good trademark attorney from various avenues, but it pays to start by asking for referrals from other venture owners you know or chatting with other entrepreneurs at relevant business events. You can check social media sites, blogs, forums, and the like for ideas of well-regarded attorneys or contact the Bar association for information on licensed lawyers.
Once you have a shortlist of candidates to research further, you should investigate each person’s (or firm’s) track record. Do they have a history of helping their clients beat infringement claims or stopping others from infringing on trademarks? Do current or past clients say that they’ve made the process of understanding and obtaining trademarks much easier? Are they seen as being communicative and pleasant to deal with, too?
It’s important to speak with everyone on your shortlist or at least one attorney from the companies you’re interested in to see if they seem well-versed in all the areas of trademark law. In particular, if you need international intellectual property protection, you’ll want to see if this is something they know well. Plus, chat with people to see who comes across as professional, reliable, and helpful.
You need to learn about people’s qualifications and if their licenses are up to date. Plus, if you’re approaching a business as a whole rather than directing your inquiries to one specific professional, find out which trademark attorney you’ll be dealing with each time. It’s worth determining if you’ll always deal with the same person and if they handle most of their workload or if they delegate a lot to junior associates, too.
Don’t be afraid to ask lawyers as many questions as necessary to feel good about your selection. Then, ask about the prices they charge and be on the lookout for any potential hidden fees, such as responding to email questions outside of office hours or extra costs for advising on particular areas of trademark law.
Before signing any contracts with attorneys, read all the fine print, so you understand what you’re agreeing to and what you will get for the money you outlay.
The sooner you follow all the steps above, the sooner you can hire an excellent trademark attorney and get their assistance in protecting your business for now and in the future.