Many entrepreneurs and start-up businesses tend to believe that trademarking their business or product name should be priority number one. Protecting your businesses’ intellectual property is indeed very important, yet it may not be the first thing that your business should do.
Why should I trademark my name at all?
It is important to understand that you will have protection over the name of your business or product when you are using that name in commercially. You need “goodwill”, or “recognition” attached to the name of your product or business to make the argument that the name deserves protection.
When told this, many businesses wonder, “Why should I trade-mark my name at all?” The answers to this question are numerous. Let’s look at a few basic elements of trademarking.
Protecting your name across the country
Registering a trademark will protect your business or product name across Canada, whereas an unregistered mark only has protection in the geographic area in which it is known. A registered trademark will also make protecting your intellectual property rights easier.
Enforcing name protection
With a trademark, the burden of proof will be on the person who you allege is infringing your mark to prove that your mark should not be protected. A registered trademark allows more options in terms of enforcement, including seeking an injunction from the Federal Court of Canada to stop someone from infringing your trademark.
Setting up a company for licensing
Another reason why many businesses seek to trademark their brand or business name is because trademarks are a marketable asset. A registered mark is more readily licensed, simply because the buyer will have more assurances of the true ownership of the mark.
Dealing with opposition cost effective
Finally, registering your mark will allow you to deal with any potential opposition at any early stage. It can be costly to trademark your business years down the road and realizing the name is already registered. This would mean a costly and time-consuming re-branding effort. Often, it is better to ensure your name is protected before spending any money building a brand identity.
These answers inform the decision whether to register a trademark or not and at what stage.
While it may not be “priority no. 1” for a start-up business, a registered trademark is essential for any business looking to build brand equity.
Image credit: by Mike Mozart, on flickr.com.