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Your trademark, like your name, is your identity, because as a solopreneur, your business is yours and yours alone. And unlike your name, which you most probably did not choose, you worked and thought long and hard before you decided on your business trademark. You should have chosen a name that is unique, and that cannot be confused with the trademark of any other business, whether it is in a field similar to yours or has nothing at all to do with what you do. Now, you need to make sure that it is protected so that it belongs only to you, and so that when you decide to pursue other opportunities, you can even sell your trademark along with your other business assets.
Trademark protection in the United States includes registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It maintains an online search database so that you can indeed verify that your trademark is unique, but the USPTO still does maintain the right to refuse to register any trademark for various reasons. Therefore, it is important to hire an experienced attorney who specializes in trademark protection to handle your filing and registration.
An expert attorney will indeed make sure that your trademark, once approved, enjoys airtight protection from unauthorized use in the United States. This is necessary because otherwise you might find that a trademark very similar to yours has been used for a product or service that is not connected to yours, only because you misunderstood the procedure for registering the trademark for all of the product classes that you need to cover. If your trademark or one similar to it is misused by another business, whether or not it is a competitor, this can create confusion online, because online searches for your business and its products will instead lead to websites that have no connection whatsoever to you. In addition, it can cause problems when you contact clients, as if they have already heard of a similar trademark they may associate your trademark with something that is of no interest to them.
In the event of illegal misuse of your trademark, only proper registration can allow you to seek legal recourse or to threaten legal action if the offender does not cease and desist. Without registration, it is difficult to enforce the value of a trademark in court. In fact, if you do not properly register your trademark, a competitor can do so. The cost of a legal battle to regain rights to your trademark in such circumstances is often prohibitive for a solopreneur. Therefore, even the most thorough and specific registration process through an attorney is worthwhile.
Proper registration and trademark protection (which grants you the right to use the ® mark) gives your trademark the same status as hallowed registered trademarks like Coca-Cola, and it therefore gives you the same rights as the largest multinational corporations when it comes to defending your trademark.
Aurelia Mitchell Durant, Esquire
IS YOUR BRAND PROTECTED?