Protecting Your Brand to Help You Build a Stronger Business
Branding is one of the most important parts of your business. It tells customers who you are and helps them to remember you.
According to Global Banking and Finance Review, 71% of consumers report that brand recognition is important to their purchase decisions, and 82% of investors rely on brand recognition to guide their investment decisions. Furthermore, consistent presentation of a brand can increase revenue by as much as 33%.
If you have not yet taken steps to legally protect your brand, you should seriously consider reaching out to a trademark attorney in NYC.
Why John C. Laurence Law, PLLC?
John C. Laurence Law, has dedicated many years to helping businesses understand, grow, and preserve the value of their intellectual property rights.
John’s practice is based in New York, NY a hub of innovation in the United States. However, John has helped businesses across the nation and even internationally with their trademark, patent, and copyright needs. No matter where you are, John can help you build your brand and preserve your intellectual property rights.
When it comes to intellectual property law, you need a New York based trademark attorney with extensive experience, who also understands the world of technology and innovation.
John worked as an electrical and computer engineer before becoming an intellectual property attorney. This experience positions him well to see things from a client’s perspective and provide businesses and innovators with the services they need most.
John has prepared numerous trademark applications and helped clients with proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. He has worked both to prosecute and defend trademark infringement and understands every aspect of that process.
Commitment to Excellence
Just like you, John takes pride in his work and his brand. John C. Laurence Law has a reputation for excellence built from providing comprehensive, quality services to clients.
John has many satisfied clients, as demonstrated by his 5-star rating on Avvo. Other recognition includes being named as a Rising Star by Superlawyers.com.
If you need help with any intellectual property law matter, consider setting up a consultation with John to learn more about what he can do for you and your business.
What Is a Trademark?
A trademark is a name, phrase, or symbol that identifies your brand or product and distinguishes it from other brands and products. For example, you can trademark a logo, a product name like iPad, or a slogan like “You’re in Good Hands with Allstate.”
Owning a trademark gives you the right to use it exclusively. It also allows you to prevent other people from using the same or similar marks in a way that could cause confusion with your trademark.
Who Is a Trademark For?
Every business uses trademarks. Trademarks help you:
- Make your brand memorable;
- Distinguish your brand from others;
- Communicate attributes of your brand;
- Increase the value of your brand; and
- Use the internet to advertise your brand.
You may already own trademarks without even realizing it. Names, logos, and other identifying marks are automatically provided common law trademark rights based solely on their use. Nevertheless, to fully protect your trademarks, it is important that you register them.
Why Does Your Brand Need Trademark Protection?
Although registration is not required, you should seriously consider registering your trademark with either your state government or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Registering your trademark gives you the following protections:
- The exclusive right to use the trademark and prevent others from using it;
- Presumptive evidence that you own the trademark;
- Notice to others that you own the trademark and that it is not available for use; and
- Increased remedies for trademark infringement.
If you are operating your business only locally, registration with your state may be sufficient. However, registering your trademark at the national level with the USPTO has become increasingly important as more small businesses participate in e-commerce. It will also provide important protection to your business if you want to expand into other states in the future.
What Is Trademark Infringement?
Trademark infringement occurs when someone else uses your trademark in an impermissible way, typically to promote their own brand or product that is similar to yours. Trademark infringement can also occur when someone uses a name or mark that is similar enough to yours that it could cause a likelihood of confusion.
To prove trademark infringement, you must demonstrate three things: that the trademark is protectable, that you own it, and that someone used your mark in a way that would create a likelihood of confusion.
Valid and Protectable Trademark
To be protectable, your trademark needs to be distinctive. The distinctiveness of the mark is based on where it fits on the following scale, with fanciful being the most protectable and descriptive being the least protectable:
- Fanciful names have no meaning apart from your brand, such as Google;
- Arbitrary names have a meaning that is unconnected to your business, such as Camel cigarettes;
- Suggestive names suggest what the product might be, such as Netflix; and
- Descriptive names describe the product, such as American Airlines.
Generic names generally aren’t protectable. For example, if you wanted to name your candy store “The Candy Store,” it’s highly unlikely that you would be able to trademark that name.
Generally, to prove ownership of a trademark, you need to show that you used it first. If your trademark is registered, this can be compelling proof that you own the mark and will make your lawsuit much easier.
Likelihood of Confusion
Finally, you need to prove the infringing use of your trademark presented a likelihood of confusion. Evidence of this can include:
- How related the goods or services are;
- How much the trademarks sound or look the same;
- Whether the trademarks have a similar meaning;
- Whether anyone has actually been confused by the marks;
- How sophisticated your consumers are; and
- Whether you market your product or service in the same geographic area as the infringer or are likely to expand into the same area.
It’s important to have a trademark attorney to help you with a trademark infringement case. They can ensure you pursue the right claims against the right people and that you have the necessary evidence to support your claims.
What Remedies Do You Have for Trademark Infringement?
You have several potential remedies for trademark infringement. The most common is to seek an injunction ordering the infringer to stop using your trademark. The court can also order any infringing goods to be destroyed.
Additionally, you can seek monetary damages for the improper use of the trademark. These are usually based on:
- Profits made by the infringer,
- Losses you suffered as a result of the infringement, and
- Your attorney fees and costs.
If you have registered your trademark with the USPTO, additional options are available to you under the federal Lanham Act. If the infringement involved counterfeiting, you can ask the court to triple your damages. If your actual damages were minimal or difficult to prove, you can alternatively seek statutory damages. Depending on the circumstances, statutory damages could be as much as $2,000,000 per counterfeit mark.
How Much Does a Trademark Cost?
How much a trademark costs depends on whether you file it with the USPTO or your state. State filing fees differ. In New York, trademark registration costs $50 for each classification of goods or services you name.
The USPTO has two filing options, which cost either $225 or $275. Additionally, you will need to file periodic reports to keep your trademark protection alive, each of which will incur a filing fee.
How Do You Apply for a Trademark?
Applying for a trademark involves several steps.
Conduct a Search
It’s important that you verify that no one else owns your trademark before you attempt to register it. Check the USPTO’s database and your state’s trademark database. Also, do some research to make sure no one in your area is already using the trademark.
Make Sure Your Mark Is Distinctive
If your mark is not sufficiently distinctive, your trademark application could be rejected. Additionally, a distinctive trademark will be easier to protect down the road.
Prepare Your Application
For a USPTO trademark registration, you will need to verify that you are already using the mark in commerce or that you intend to do so in the future.
Additionally, your application will need to include:
- Personal identifying information;
- A description and/or drawing of the mark;
- A list of goods or services you will use the mark for;
- Dates when you first used the mark;
- A specimen showing how the mark is used with your goods or services; and
- Your filing fee.
It’s important to consult an attorney as you prepare your trademark application. Although it may seem like a simple form, the information you provide can have a significant impact on your ability to use and protect your trademark. A New York trademark attorney can advise you on how to give your trademark the broadest possible protection.
How Can a New York Trademark Attorney Help You?
A trademark attorney in NYC can answer any questions you have about trademarks and help you with any legal issues that arise.
It’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney before filing your trademark application. Your attorney can:
- Advise you of where to register your trademark;
- Help you determine whether anyone has previously registered your trademark;
- Help you select a trademark that is legally protectable;
- Make sure you properly identify the goods and services covered in your trademark application;
- Help you prepare your initial application as well as subsequent reports to maintain your trademark; and
- Help you choose a specimen for your application that adequately shows how you will use your mark.
There are many pitfalls that a New York trademark lawyer knows how to watch out for. While you may be tempted to complete your trademark application alone, this could turn out to be a costly mistake.
There are many circumstances where you may want to grant a license to someone else to use your trademarks. For example, you may want to permit a vendor to use your trademark to advertise your product. Or you may grant permission to use your trademark along with a patent or copyright license.
You want your licensing agreement to be thorough and address details such as:
- The specific circumstances where the licensee can use your trademark;
- The geographic area where the licensee can use your trademark;
- Whether the trademark license is exclusive;
- How long the license will last;
- How the license can be terminated;
- Remedies for violations of the license agreement;
- How much the licensee will pay you for the license; and
- Your rights to control the quality of products and services associated with your trademark.
Licensing agreements are formal legal documents that should always be prepared or reviewed by an attorney.
Any time you are involved in a trademark infringement lawsuit—whether as a plaintiff or a defendant—it’s important to have an attorney represent you. Your attorney can help you:
- Identify the right plaintiffs;
- Meet filing deadlines;
- Negotiate with the opposing party;
- Gather important evidence;
- Draft legal documents in support of your claim; and
- Argue your case at trial, if necessary.
Trademark infringement is a complex area of litigation. It is not something you want to face on your own. An experienced trademark litigation attorney is essential to protecting your intellectual property rights.
Consult a Trademark Attorney in NYC Today
If you are ready to protect your trademarks, look no further than John C. Laurence Law, PLLC. John has the experience necessary to help you with all your intellectual property needs, including trademark, patent, and copyright issues. He has helped businesses all across the country file for trademark protection and enforce their rights. Call or contact our office today to set up an initial consultation, and learn more about what John can do for you and your business.