Why a Little Symbol can have Big Consequences

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You’ve probably seen the symbol a million times, on billboards, on boxes, even on the websites you’re browsing this very moment. The trademark symbol (™) has become synonymous with huge corporations wanting to protect their brand and their image against those who seek to use it for purposes that may be detrimental to the company. But as a small business owner, do you really need to worry about trademarking your company? It may seem like just another fee being squeezed from you as you try to establish your business as credible, but in reality trademarking your business can save you from a lot of hassle down the road.

Protect Yourself from Other Businesses

Cease and Desist. These are words that are sure to induce a headache to any small business owner. Being a small company, you’d probably assume that your business is flying under the radar, nothing large enough worth dealing with to any large corporation who may find fault with your company’s name. But the fact of the matter is that large corporations often seek to shut down anything that may infringe upon their business as soon as it pops up, as they may cause problems with the company’s image (just ask the company that received a cease and desist letter from Starbucks for a “Frappuccino” beer that had only sold three glasses).

It’s far better to worry about finding a legitimate name for your business before you spend time and money building a brand and client base, only to be told that you’ll have to find a new one. Do a trademark search from the get-go and get things on paper so you’ll have peace of mind. Some companies like RM Information Professionals specialize in making trademark registration. They can help you do the search, trademark your company and monitor activity to prevent others from using your name in the future.

Protect Yourself for the Future

Though the thought of reaching the iconic status of Starbucks or the like seems pretty improbably at the moment, imagine the shoe on the other foot. You’ve worked years to build your business to a reputable standpoint and finally have made it to the top. Whether that top is best in the neighborhood or best in the nation is up to you. But while you’re sitting behind your mahogany desk with your feet kicked up, you’re browsing the web and realize that a company is using your name. Your marketing team lets you know that a website with a name that’s eerily similar to your own is drawing away traffic. Who knows what kind of valuable clients you’ve lost when they weren’t able to find you?

This is probably an overstatement seeing as if you’re able to afford a mahogany desk and a marketing team, your legal team probably should have advised you on a trademark ages ago (unless they’re a really horrible legal team). But the fact of the matter stands – without a trademark, you have no basis for making that company find a new name to defile. You can apply for a trademark at that point but if that company has already trademarked their name (they must have had a better legal team), you don’t have much of a leg to stand on. That doesn’t mean that nothing can be done to rectify the situation; it only means that a lengthy and expensive battle looms ahead.

 

Make It Legit

 

Your business is a reflection of yourself and the only way you’re going to grow your customer base is by making sure others know that you’re more than just a guy renting out a storage space with a computer. You’re going to want to make sure your business appears legitimate from every aspect and that includes the legalities.

Trademarking your name will help your business appear official, because it means you took the time and had the wherewithal to get it done in the first place. Once you’ve trademarked your company name, take the time to work on a company website, even if the only thing you offer on it is information. Many customers find their businesses through websites these days and surely you’ve found a website that looks like the online equivalent of a guy selling candy from his van. Use these tips to put together a professional looking website and ensure anyone who does a search and comes across your site thinks your company is reputable.

Trademarking may seem like another unnecessary expense to small business owners already struggling to stay in the black as they get started. But it can save a company loads of time and money down the line, making it well worth the effort. Have you run into trademarking issues? Let us know what your experiences were in the comments and any advice you may have for small business owners starting the process.

AUTHOR BIO

Krista Coulter is a freelance writer and marketing student. She loves helping the little folk out when it comes to their small business questions in an easy to understand way.