Most business owners understand that their brand is critical to their reputation and generating goodwill among their existing and potential customers. They may even have a vague sense that there are some actions they can take to protect that brand, such as applying to register their brand as a trademark. The questions are what to do, and who to call to get more information.
While the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) offers a significant amount of information about trademarks, including videos and how-to guides, the on-line forms can be overwhelming, and the PTO site recommends consulting a trademark attorney.
The website can be a great first step for a business to learn more about the registration process, but once you’re ready to work with an attorney, what happens next?
Start With A Consultation
During a consultation, the attorney will ask questions about the business and the brand, how the mark is used, and about any future plans. You’ll get the most out of this meeting if you’re prepared in advance. Here are a few guidelines to help you navigate the process, and efficiently work with your attorney:
- Send the attorney your logo and design marks, preferably in color and black and white, and in .jpg format. Include pictures of any products you are selling with the brand, any brochures or advertisements that you might have. This will allow the attorney to evaluate your current use and identify any potential issues.
- If the mark is in use, locate your records that show when it was first used – for instance, the first sales of the product, advertisements for the services. The attorney doesn’t need the actual documents, but knowing the dates is helpful.
- If the mark is new, not yet in use, then have an outline as to the plans for the mark, including what products or services are intended, and the potential launch dates. For example, if you intend to use it for clothing, make a list of the kinds of items you plan to sell, such as hats, socks, t-shirts and jackets. Don’t worry about exact terminology – a general description is sufficient.
- Review your company documents. Know what kind of entity you have, the state of formation and the names of the officers.
- Identify a decision maker. There are a lot of strategic choices to be made, and it’s more efficient if your attorney has just one person with whom to communicate.
Ask Questions, Be Prepared For Decisions
Having your materials ready can make the registration process more efficient. By reviewing these materials before your consultation, you’ll be able to formulate your questions in advance as well as be prepared to answer questions from the attorney that will move your application forward faster. While you don’t need to be an expert in trademark law, following these simple steps will allow your attorney to do their job more effectively.
If you’re ready to register your mark, please feel free to reach out. But if you still have questions, we are happy to answer them. With over 20 years of experience in the trademark field, we can help you with any of your trademark questions, just ask.