Even if you don’t realize it, everyone deals with trademarks on a daily basis. “Trademark” is another way of referring to brands, and brands are what influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. You do not want a competitor hijacking your creative hard work to confuse these consumers into buying from them, rather than the true brand source. When it comes to protecting your business in the tire industry, specifically, trademark protection is essential.
In an industry with many competitors, as well as foreign-based suppliers and manufacturers, it is imperative not only to have proper agreements in place to govern relationships, but to register your original marks as trademarks in the United Stated Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO, for short) or any other foreign intellectual property office in which you do business.
In this post, I’m going to provide several reasons why trademark registration and protection will benefit your business.
- First impressions are important. Trademarks, in a sense, create the first impression a consumer has when considering the purchase of a product and, as such, are an effective communication tool. In a single brand or logo, trademarks can convey intellectual and emotional attributes and messages about you, your company, and your company’s reputation, products and services.
- Trademarks make it easy for customers to find you. The tire marketplace is crowded and it’s hard to distinguish your business from your competitors. Trademarks/brands are an efficient commercial communication tool to capture customer attention and make your business, products and services stand out. It is why many businesses dedicate huge amounts of resources into creating, building, and maintaining these marks.
- Trademarks allow businesses to effectively utilize the Internet and social media, including building a stable reputation online via reviews. Your brand is the first thing customers enter into a search engine or social media platform when looking for tires and, when they do, you want to make sure that what appears in that search is your protected trademark, and not an infringing competitor.
- Trademarks are a valuable asset. Trademarks can appreciate in value over time. The more your business reputation grows, the more valuable your brand will be. If you desire it, your trademark can lead to the acquisition of your business by a larger corporation. The larger corporation, however, will most assuredly require that the intellectual property is properly registered! Furthermore, trademarks are a property asset that can be bought, sold, licensed, or used as a security interest to secure a loan to grow your business. Having a federally protected mark will prevent an infringing party from doing these things behind your back.
- Trademarks can make hiring easier! Similar to how trademarks can inspire consumer purchasing decisions, brands can inspire potential employment candidate decisions as well. Having qualified, inspired sta, in turn, increases the image of the brand.
- Trademarks are a bargain to obtain vs the potential benefits. The USPTO charges as little as $225 to obtain trademark registration, assuming you don’t use a trademark attorney to file on your behalf (which is always recommended to secure your best chance of approval). With this small registration fee (and approval of your trademark), you gain benefits such as:
- Federally recognized trademark ownership (as opposed to only state level ownership)
- Notice of ownership posted for all to see, both via USPTO search engine and the ability to use the famous ® mark
- Advantages in federal courts. Should you need to bring action against an infringing entity, a registered federal trademark gives you the ability to bring an action in federal court, and, walk into court with the presumption of validity – in short, you have the advantage in terms of burden of proof at trial. In certain cases, the fact that your trademark is easily identifiable and on the USPTO register may entitle you to treble damages (three times the proven damages) if there is a loss of business thanks to a violation of your trademark. You also gain the ability to pursue statutory damages rather than having to prove a concrete value of damages – a lessened burden on you and a greater chance of success in court.
- Protection in international situations. There are two main ways in which a registered U.S. trademark can help protect your brand in international situations. The first is through protection against imports of similarly branded goods from offshore manufacturers – goods that may well be actively and maliciously attempting to infringe on your brand. U.S. jurisdiction won’t cover the manufacture and distribution of those goods overseas, but it can prevent them from reaching potential customers in the United States, under the protection of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (after registering your trademark with the USPTO, you should also register with CBP). Second, a U.S. registration is a local basis for international registration, providing you the benefits afforded by other Trademark Offces overseas that you may choose to register with, while still guaranteeing the full protection of U.S. trademark law.
These are just some of the benefits registering your brand as a trademark can provide and, as you can see, the benefits of registering your trademark far outweighs the effort in acquiring one. We here at TGI work smart to make sure our portfolio of brands and intellectual property is protected, so that we may continue to provide our customers with our trademark quality tires and service!
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