What is a strong trademark? When most first-time business owners come across the concept of trademark strength, they do not understand it, even though some of them think they do. A strong trademark is a unique trademark. Simple enough, right? Is that all you need to know? No. If it were, there would not be a whole article about it below. Sure, technically, a strong trademark is a unique trademark.
However, what does “unique” mean exactly in the business world, and what legal requirements are involved? These are the questions I will be answering below, so read on to learn what you need to know.
The Importance of Having a Strong Trademark
If you own a business, then you have trademarks, even if you have not registered them yet or are not considering doing so. For example, the name of your business, logo, and slogan are all trademarks. These represent your business, allowing consumers to know about it and, most importantly, to distinguish it from the competition.
Not all trademarks, however, do a good job representing the businesses that own them. Some trademarks are relatively “weak.” In other words, they are not unique enough to allow the public to instantly identify the business they represent and differentiate it from similar businesses.
On the other hand, many trademarks are very strong, meaning they are so unique that it is virtually impossible to associate them with any other business other than the one they represent. For example, when you hear the words Nike, Adidas, and Gatorade, you think about the businesses, the products, and most importantly, the brands. That is what a strong trademark can do for a business – make the business be the only thing that comes to mind upon hearing or seeing the trademark.
However, public recognition is not the only benefit of creating a strong trademark. The stronger a trademark, the more likely the USPTO will grant it protection. Thus, the easier it is to police it to make sure no one uses it without permission.
Steps You Can Take to Increase the Strength of a Trademark
Now that you know why it is essential to make sure you do not have weak trademarks, it is time to learn how you can increase the strength of your trademarks.
The easiest step you can take to increase a trademark’s strength is to use it in commerce continuously. No matter how unique a trademark is, if you do not use it, its strength decreases. Not to mention, you can even end up losing your trademark registration. If your trademark is not registered, then not using it can reduce its strength to zero.
This reduction allows other businesses to use and register a similar trademark, destroying your trademark rights. Trademark law is very straightforward – there is no reason to own a trademark if you are not going to use it.
Another step you can take to protect your trademarks – although this one is not necessarily easy – is to apply for trademark registration with the USPTO. This is not a legal requirement. However, it is the best way to protect your brand and legally punish those who try to take advantage of your hard work and reputation.
The process of registering a trademark can be tricky, and making mistakes can send you back to square one. For example, suppose you make even a tiny mistake during the application process. In that case, the USPTO will cancel your application, and you will have to start over and pay the filing fees again. Therefore, working with an experienced trademark attorney who understands the application process is vital.
Another one of the most important steps you can take to increase the strength of a trademark is to ensure its’ uniqueness. Such a unique feature instantly makes your business and your products or services pop into the minds of consumers. In other words, create a trademark that is not generic or that merely describes your products or services.
Creating a unique trademark, however, is not easy. Sure, you could make up a word and call your business that, hoping that one day it will be recognized worldwide. Nevertheless, that might not be the right strategy for you. While made-up words can become the strongest trademarks, a lot of work – as well as a lot of money – goes into burning these words into the minds of consumers, so keep that in mind.
Finally, you can take a straightforward step to increase the strength of every single one of your trademarks, and that is to work with an experienced trademark lawyer. I can be that lawyer.