I LOVE business. I find having a business idea, developing a plan, giving “birth” to it, watching it grow and generate revenue is so exciting. What can be worse than building it all and having someone snatch not only your business idea, but also your business or product name?!! YIKES!!
I help so many people develop amazing businesses and the last thing they think about is protecting their name. I get it. Often I meet people that have been in business for awhile and STILL aren’t concerned about it. They get real concerned about it- to the point of tears and a bunch of bad words- once someone else starts using the same (or a very similar name). The anger and fear is at even higher levels when they learn that someone else may have even gone as far as obtaining a federal trademark registration for the name.
It is a sick feeling. The thought of “your baby” being snatched from you, all the money you spent on branding and possibly merchandise flushed down the toilet. They got the trademark registration and now own the name, right? WRONG! It is still yours, but just like a great relationship, you may have to fight for it.
Don’t feel intimated because you think someone “one upped” you. Here’s the deal:
If you were the first person to use the name in commerce before the weasel trademarked the name, you can have their trademark canceled. Great news, right?!
So, what does “use in commerce” mean? Briefly it means a) when the name is placed on the goods, labels, tags, etc ; b) the goods are sold or transported in commerce; c) on services, when the name is displayed in the sale or advertising of services.
One may feel intimated upon receipt of a demand to stop using the name because it has been registered by another person. However, knowing your rights and having the proof of when you began using it in commerce, can help in your fight for your name.
Although it may not be hard to prove, it is a headache to present everything and seek cancelation of the other person’s trademark so that you can then seek registration. A headache that can be avoided. My advice is to just handle this before it can ever become an issue. Seek trademark registration early on in your venture. In today’s social media age, when someone sees a name that they like, unfortunately they “take” it. They will bully the real owner, ignore all requests to stop and even offer to sell it back to the real owner.
Treat your business like a REAL business. Handle your intellectual property/ brand ownership before someone mishandles you!
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