When a new client calls about a project or question regarding their mark, they are often apologetic. “Sorry, I don’t know much about trademarks and the registration process,” they will tell me. While I appreciate their willingness to learn and provide me with relevant information, there’s no reason for any business person to feel sorry for their lack of knowledge about intellectual property law.
Infringement Isn’t Exactly Must-See TV
Trademark, copyright and intellectual property rights are complicated and nuanced areas of law. Unless a business has completed the registration process, or been involved in litigation, you have no real frame of reference. There are no dramatic television shows that feature a compelling trademark infringement case—and while it’s an area of law I enjoy, it’s not the stuff that makes for great ratings.
There are great (but not TV-sexy) resources available for businesses to learn about the process. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) offers a considerable amount of information about trademarks, including videos and how-to guides. On its face, the website is designed to allow a business owner to apply to register their own mark. Yet, without an understanding as to the basics of trademark law, it becomes just another confusing form to complete. As most businesses who have attempted this process by themselves can tell you, failure to provide the right information can lead to lost time, increased costs or worse, loss of rights.
This Is Why You Hired Me
The PTO system is complicated, even for experienced attorneys. Some decisions are strategic, where you need an experienced professional to help make the best choices. Further, the PTO is continually making changes to policy, updates to the website, and adding requirements for applications, resulting in a process that often becomes tedious and generally confusing. As professionals in this field, trademark attorneys spend considerable time keeping up with recent court decisions, new rules and updated forms. And not one of us expects our clients to know the latest information.
Working with an experienced trademark attorney means that you don’t have to know everything about the subject. That’s our job, and why you chose to work with us. Ask questions to ensure you feel comfortable with the process and that you know what to expect, including with respect to timing and costs. Never feel intimidated or embarrassed about your lack of knowledge about an intricate area of law. Trust an experienced attorney to guide you through the process and ultimately, reach your business goals.