Protecting Your Brand: 7 Steps You Can Take

By Erin Bonahoom on September 24th, 2015 / Comments

Getting ready to launch a new company or product? Protecting your brand from the very beginning will help set you up for success. Here are seven great insights on how you can protect your brand now.

1. Be Creative When Picking Your Company Name. Even if you don’t intend to obtain a trademark of your company name right away, you should still think about whether the name is capable of being trademarked. Often, entrepreneurs pick a name that describes the very service or good that they are selling.  A name that is too generic or descriptive may not pass scrutiny with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) or if it does, it can be difficult to protect later on. Think creatively and save yourself from headache later on!

2. Before Starting Your Company, Research Your Proposed Name. Be sure your Company  name is not already trademarked before you put too much time and effort into it!  A basic internet search can help you identify other companies using your proposed name or logo to prevent you from investing time and money building your brand only to discover you cannot use the proposed name or logo.

You should also perform a Michigan Service Mark / Trademark Search, Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (“LARA”) Company  entity search, and USPTO trademark search to see what else is out there that may be similar.

MI Service Mark / Trademark: http://www.dleg.state.mi.us/dms/results.asp?docowner=BCSC&doccat=Mark&Search=Search

LARA Business Entity Search: http://www.dleg.state.mi.us/bcs_corp/sr_corp.asp

USPTO TESS Search: http://www.uspto.gov/trademark

3. Obtain A Trademark For Your Name and Your Logo If They Are Important to Your Company. By obtaining a trademark of your Company name or logo, you can prevent another Company  from using your customer good will and unfairly competing against yours.

4. Be Consistent With Your Brand. Once you pick your Company  name and logo, it’s important that you use it consistently.  This helps customers identify your Company’s goods or services. You don’t want to confuse potential customers about who you are or what your Company  does.

5. Police and Enforce Your Trademark. Even with a trademark, you can lose your mark and all the exclusive rights that come with it if you don’t police and enforce it. It’s important to stay on top of your brand and take action to enforce your trademark rights consistently. If you don’t have time to scour the internet to see if others are infringing on your trademark, set up Google alerts so you’re notified every time you have an infringer on the loose.  It is a good idea to discuss any possible infringements with an attorney who can assist you in determining the right course of action, including drafting an appropriate cease and desist / take down letter.

6. Assign Intellectual Property Rights to the Company. If an employee or owner contributes intellectual property, make sure they assign their rights to the Company . Make sure that any contractors or other consultants with access to the Company’s intellectual property sign agreements stating that they cannot use it for their own personal or Company use.  Having this clause in your contracts can save you some serious brand agony.

7. Keep Trade Secrets Confidential. Take steps to keep your methods – your “secret sauce” – confidential.  This means Company should not tweet their “special ingredient” or share the information with others – including non-key employees – unless necessary to do so.  Having confidentiality agreements with those individuals who have access to trade secrets is helpful in protecting them and helps to demonstrate that the Company treats the information as confidential.

Learn more about Sadek Banahoon at www.sabolegal.com.

About the Author

Erin Bonahoom

Erin Bonahoom

Sadek Bonahoom is a Detroit law firm that offers a wide range of legal services to companies of all sizes, from startups to well established businesses. The firm has a variety of types of clients, from high-growth tech to retail to food manufacturers to the creative industries.