As a business owner, an official trademark is a must. It legally protects your brand’s products and services. But that’s not all. It also prevents other businesses and people from piggybacking off your success (also known as copycat brands).
However, registering a trademark is no small task. What’s more, ensuring continuous protection to it requires ongoing vigilance. Performing these tasks alone can be challenging. And eventually, you will need an attorney to come in and save the day.
“You can always try to do it without the help of an attorney, but understanding whether your concept qualifies for intellectual protection is a complex process, and consulting a professional is often advisable. If you’re considering a self-guided approach, you should thoroughly educate yourself on the intricacies of patent registration and protection. And while many inventors wonder if they can secure a patent independently, pitfalls often abound without expert guidance.
If you are not yet working with a trademark attorney, the following article highlights five signs you need to hire one.
You Are Struggling To Conduct A Trademark Search
Before filing an application, you should conduct a search. This type of search informs you whether your desired one is already in use by another business. It also lets you know whether you are free to use it.
If you are unfamiliar with trademark databases, you should avoid conducting such a search. You may struggle to conduct the search because you are dealing with an unfamiliar database. You may also be unsure about the results.
You should hire a trademark lawyer to conduct the search. Your lawyer can conduct an in-depth search. With the results from the search, your lawyer will produce a report letting you know whether your desired one is available for registration or infringes on an existing one.
Your Application Has Been Rejected
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants or rejects applications for the relevant issues. A rejected application can be discouraging. This is especially true if you believe your desired one is unique.
The USPTO follows strict rules to evaluate these applications. A rejection can result from something as minor as an application error. It can also result from a deceptively misdescriptive trademark or the likelihood of confusion with an existing one.
If your application has been rejected, the first person you should turn to is a lawyer. A lawyer can explain why your application was rejected. Even better, a lawyer can help you amend your application, increasing your chances of obtaining a successful outcome.
You Want To Renew Your Trademark
To ensure it remains valid, you need to renew it periodically. The USPTO sets renewal deadlines. You must meet these deadlines to keep your registration alive. If you don’t meet these deadlines, you can lose the protection for it. With no protection, it can be infringed upon. Other people can also profit off of your success and drive you out of business.
Hiring a legal practitioner can help you avoid such outcomes. A lawyer can help you renew your trademark within the given deadline. A lawyer can also advise you on the continuous use of your one. This way, you avoid abandonment issues and maintain your brand’s intellectual property.
Another Person Is Infringing On Your Trademark
Another person may be infringing on your trademark if they:
- Use it without your permission.
- Use it in commerce. This means they are using it for their own benefit.
- Use it, and as a result, can lead to confusion among customers about the endorsement, affiliation, or source of their goods or services.
All these are clear indicators of infringement. With a lawyer in your corner, you can protect your rights. Your lawyer can thoroughly assess the situation. Even more, your lawyer can help you gather evidence on how another person (or business) has infringed on it.
You Want To Expand Your Business
Expanding your business is exciting. This is especially true if you are expanding to international markets. Not only will you get new customers. But you will also generate greater profits. However, expanding to international markets can be challenging.
Foreign countries have their own laws. And the protection you enjoyed in your native country may not be provided overseas. To secure international protection, you need to understand each jurisdiction’s requirements. And since you may not be well-versed in such requirements, you need to rely on a lawyer’s knowledge.
A lawyer understands intellectual property law. They can help you protect it in international markets. They can also help you avoid legal disputes and maintain your brand identity overseas.
Qualities Of A Good Attorney
Many business owners struggle to find a trademark attorney. However, that does not have to be your experience. Here are three qualities you want your potential attorney to possess.
Several Years of Experience
You want a trademark lawyer with several years of experience. An experienced lawyer can effectively handle these matters. These include registration, enforcement, and litigation. An experienced lawyer can also help you navigate legal challenges and pursue litigation if necessary.
Specializes In Intellectual Property Law
A good trademark attorney specializes in intellectual property (IP) law. They understand the regulations in native and foreign countries and are always updated on the latest industry changes. Also, they will come in handy when partnering with other businesses and investors, as they can guide you in drafting your privacy laws.
Good Communication Skills
Before choosing an attorney in the same field, ensure they are good communicators. You want an attorney that listens to you, communicates effectively, and explains legal concepts in a way you can understand. If you are more confused after talking to a potential attorney, they are not the one for you.
Protect Your Intellectual Property
If you are struggling to conduct a search, facing an application relatively, want to renew your trademark, have infringement concerns, or are considering international expansion, hiring an attorney in this field is a wise investment. An attorney can do the heavy lifting. They can do everything from conducting searches and amending applications to renewing them and ensuring malicious people do not infringe on them.
Remember, before choosing a trademark attorney, ensure they possess important qualities, including several years of experience, specialization in intellectual property law, and good communication skills. Do not walk this journey alone. Hire a lawyer and maintain your business’s intellectual property.