Starting your own business can be a daunting task. New business owners often have to navigate tax compliance, city codes, license obligations, bank accounts, marketing and financing. Sometimes the only fun part is coming up with original business names or ideas. Even then the landscape can be fraught with trademark issues.
As E-commerce has increased, so has the potential for small businesses to run afoul of the trademark law. This is especially true if a business has desires to do business online. The increasing chance of trademark infringement is explained by veteran trademark attorney Perry Clegg:
“The ease with which people can do business online has exponentially increased the number of mom and pop shops doing business in interstate commerce. Consequently, it is more likely see trademark conflicts arising both from copycat and inadvertent infringements. E-commerce and the blogosphere have exponentially increased the number of marks being used in any particular field of business.”
Often times trademark infringement is unintentional and can be avoided with a trademark search. Other times it is intentional and these lawsuits have escalated into hundreds of millions. Many companies find it cheaper to walk away from their brand, than fight a trademark- infringement lawsuit. If you are guilty of trademark infringement, intentional or unintentional, you may have to pay attorney fees. However, a properly- filed trademark increases your chances of winning a lawsuit and collecting attorney fees if you are the subject of trademark infringement.
Overall the trend of trademark registrations has greatly increased. In the past twenty years, the amount of trademark applications have more than doubled. This is associated with the rise of E-commerce and the realization that: businesses need to be online and being online means you need an extra layer of protection. The only question that remains is what type of trademark should you acquire.
There are two types of trademarks you may want to consider. The first is a state trademark which limits your protection to Arkansas. This is an option if you don’t have the desire to expand nationally or internationally. If you want to do business online, it is probably best to go with the second type of trademark, a US trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
A US trademark offers you protection throughout the entire United States. Unlike the state trademark which is applied for through the Arkansas Secretary of State. A US trademark must be applied for through the USPTO. Only certain attorneys can file a trademark for you. Many people choose to do-it-themselves.
The trademark professionals at trademark access have a free trademark program. They will file the application for you. All that is required from you is that you pay the USPTO fee. You can learn more about that here.