Tag Archives: trademark

Protect Yourself From Brand Thieves!!

Brand Thieves and Squatters

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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3 Tips To Reduce the Risk of Your Business Being Sued

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Let’s face it…we live in a “sue-happy” nation. Lawsuits for this, lawsuits for that. Some are warranted and others are not. Either way no one wants to get caught up in the paper trail and the headache associated with being served a petition. I have a few tips to share to help REDUCE (because of course there are no guarantees) the chances of being sued.

  1. Incorporate Your Business: If you are sued it would suck if your personal assets got all caught up in the headache! Incorporate your business in your state so that it can exist as an entity separate from you and your personal assets. There are several different types of entities that may provide you with protection. These include: Limited Liability Company, S-corp, C-corp, partnership, Limited Liability Partnership, etc. Each entity is taxed differently. Therefore you should check with a professional in your state to determine which would be the best fit.
  2. Trademark: You print marketing materials, create branded products, create an amazing website all under a business name that you did not know already existed. YIKES! If you do this you are infringing upon the other company’s trademark rights. In order to avoid this from happening be sure that the name you are using is available.. not just in your state but in all states! If it is a name that you  do not want anyone to use in the same business category for which you are using it, you will want to trademark the name.
  3. Legal Agreements: Of course having legal agreements in place will not prevent someone from filing a lawsuit against you. However what it does is makes things crystal clear between each party so that there will not be any (or at least minimal) confusion later. Popular agreements include an employee agreement, vendor agreement, contract employe agreement and more.

This list is short. There are so many other factos that come into place when it relates to protecting your brand. However this list gives you an idea of some things you can implement if you have not already.

Business Blessings,

Lenise

***Sharing this information does not create a professional relationship and it does not replace an attorney. Please seek legal advice for your specific needs.