Trademarks are the Oil to Your Company’s Engines
When it comes to taking care of your car, everyone understands that getting your oil changed is necessary to prevent costly engine damage. Oil is a lubricant that is essential to vehicle operation to allow metal pistons to rub against the metal cylinder without heating to the point of welding together. If you do not change your oil, dirt and other grime accumulates in the oil until the oil can no longer lubricate the engine and the engine fails. For this and many other reasons, the majority of individuals take their car in for regular oil changes to protect their engine.
Trademarks are the oil of your company. Your company will only run a short time without it. More importantly, the cost to register and maintain a trademark registration dwarfs the repercussions caused by failing to register your trademark.
For example, I spoke with a company that was the “Senior User” of a mark. A “Junior User” had successfully trademarked the senior user’s mark. In addition, the junior user flooded the internet with the mark, causing the senior user to no longer show up on the first page of a Google search when searching for the mark. Had the Senior User filed for a federal trademark registration, the Junior User could not have received a trademark and the Senior User could more easily enforce its trademark rights. However, the Senior User did not file for a trademark. As a result, the Senior User must initiate a cancellation proceeding with the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (“TTAB”) should the Senior User wish to cancel the Junior User’s trademark registration.
A cancellation proceeding is equivalent to a trial done entirely by paper filings. These proceedings include discovery, depositions, and the like. Thus, the thousands of dollars saved by not filing for a trademark could realistically result in tens of thousands to even hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. If the Senior User does not petition for cancellation, the Senior User—i.e. the company that first used the mark in commerce—may be precluded from expanding its use of the mark into new geographical locations.
Worse yet, if the Senior User does not petition for the cancellation of the trademark within five years of the Junior User’s continuous of the mark following trademark registration, the Junior User’s right to use the mark is incontestable.
Companies regularly come to a trademark lawyer when the cost to resolve their trademark issue has unnecessarily skyrocketed. It is not enough to merely file for a trademark on your own because it regularly results in errors that could prevent enforcement of said trademarks. Instead, it is vital to consult with a trademark lawyer early on, who will devise a plan for protecting some of the most valuable aspects of your company; the part of your company that establishes consumer confidence in your goods or services. Your Trademarks.