If you own a storefront property, your trademark is the first thing passerby sees. And once you’ve figured out how to start an online business, your logo—an important part of your trademark—is the first part of your website that captures a visitor’s attention. Trademarks consist of logos, slogans, the company name, and anything that identifies the company as a whole. Because of this, your trademark umbrella is your most prized piece of intellectual property. Unfortunately, trademarks are among the small details that many online business owners forget.
As an online business owner, you can trademark your company name, your logo and your products’ names. Therefore, your trademarks make up a portion of your company’s identity. If you want to secure these crucial pieces of intellectual property in order to maintain a unique business identity, you need to take steps beyond simply registering your trademarks. Once you complete the registration process, you need to continue protecting each trademark from infringement and counterfeiting. Here’s how you can protect your trademark for business:
Use Your Trademark Publicly
One of the best ways to protect your trademark is to use it publicly. In the United States, companies advertise their rights to their trademarks by putting them to use in your e-commerce (this includes using it for digital products, too). If another company sells products with your trademark on it before you get a chance to, you risk losing your rights. Even if you do not lose your rights, consumers might continue to associate the mark with the other company. In such an instance, using the mark as part of your company’s identity would not be advantageous to your business. For this reason, you need to begin using your trademark in your e-commerce as soon as you possibly can post-registration.
Register Your Social Handles
Business owners who register their companies’ social handles also succeed in keeping their trademarks secured. If you want to avoid confusing consumers, you need social handles that match your trademarked company name. Unfortunately, registering your trademark does not automatically give you the right to reserve it on social media platforms.
You need to take action yourself. Consider all of your business profiles across social media platforms. Begin your reservation efforts with the most popular platforms and work your way down the line. By registering your social handles, you boost your chances of protecting your trademark and enhance your social media marketing efforts.
Expand Your Registration Overseas
Additionally, register your trademark internationally to keep it safe from counterfeit and infringement. This is an especially crucial step for business owners who either currently conduct business overseas or plan to start. After all, U.S. trademark registries do not carry over to other countries. A company in the United States could have the same trademark as a company in China. This can cause confusion for customers purchasing products from all over the world. Avoid losing these customers by preventing the situation from occurring at all. To do so, protect your trademark internationally by registering overseas as well.
Hire the Right Help
Another way for business owners to optimize their trademark protection efforts is to maintain them. Just as you would hire a CFO for in-house financial operations, you also need to have the right representation when it comes to your trademark. Trademark registrations do not last forever, expiring after 10 years. If you do not renew, you can prevent unregistered trademark infringement.
However, to maintain the highest level of protection, commit to renewing your trademarks every decade. The process entails filing documents and paying a government fee for every class of goods or services. Additionally, the US government demands businesses to provide proof of trademark usage over the last 10 years. You can complete this step to protect your trademark online through the USPTO website.
Police Your Trademark
Finally, police your trademark to safeguard it. By monitoring your mark, you can detect any fraudulent activity as soon as it occurs. Moreover, you can notice representation issues before they get out of hand. If your business grows enough to gain media coverage and you notice that your trademark is misspelled in an online article, you can contact the media company and request it to be corrected.
Companies who fail to police their trademarks do not notice these mistakes. As a result, their target audiences get confused as to what their actual trademarks are. Companies can take advantage of this confusion. They might start to use others’ registered trademarks and claim that they were confused as to what was registered and what was not. Maintain a clear representation and quality security by monitoring your trademark usage across all platforms.
If you value your registered trademark and want to keep it secured, you need to take specific, protective steps. Begin by using your trademark publicly. Then, register your social handles to avoid confusing customers with inconsistent names and symbols. Expand your registration overseas so that you can effectively conduct business internationally. Maintain your trademark by renewing it every 10 years. Lastly, police your trademark by monitoring its uses. Follow these steps to protect your trademark for business.