Trademark logoFor those starting new businesses, one of the most exciting processes is choosing a trademark — a slogan, logo or business name by which potential customers will be able to identify the company. It’s exciting because, in many cases, it’s the first piece of information with which most people will come into contact with the business.

 For that reason, it’s also extremely important, not just because making a strong first impression is crucial, but also because a strong trademark can help your business establish its place in the market, and hopefully lead to growth.

 Coming up with a good trademark isn’t just about being catchy or clever — at least not for its own sake. It’s also about making the trademark difficult to steal or otherwise infringe upon. Trademark infringement can create a real headache for a business, and the best defense against it comes through establishing a strong trademark during the creation stage. Several approaches to doing so include coming up with what is considered a “suggestive,” “fanciful” or “arbitrary” brand name, and then having your idea researched by a reputable firm specializing in trademarks. These legal professionals will help you avoid infringing on another business’ trademarks, as well.

 Protecting your company’s trademark

 Once you’ve come up with a unique and identifiable trademark, it’s important that you use it properly. A major part of this is paying the necessary registration fees to protect the mark officially, but you’ll also need to take care to identify your trademark in everyday use. When you’re preparing marketing materials or packaging your products, you’ll need to be sure you’ve included proof of trademark: an encircled “R” if it’s federally registered, a “TM” if it’s a common law trademark or an “SM” for a common law service mark. This signals that you’ve taken the steps to protect your company’s trademark and serves as a warning against potential infringement.

 Even if you believe you’ve created a strong trademark, you still need to keep an eye out for other companies that may be infringing upon it. Particularly for smaller businesses, you may be able to get a sense of possible infringement by watching your local competitors. It’s also possible to hire an outside firm to monitor the use of your trademark by searching for not just outright theft, but also modified, misspelled or significantly similar versions of your creation.

 In the event that you believe an infringement has occurred, you’ll need to determine the best course of action. An experienced attorney with experience handling trademark infringement cases is a strong source of support and guidance. In addition to having the ability to draft appropriate legal documents, a lawyer will also evaluate the relative strength of your case and help you take the proper steps to put a stop to trademark infringement, thus allowing you to proceed with the ongoing work of managing your business.

 BoltNagi is a widely respected and established intellectual property law firm serving businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.