The first step taken by many company owners following the formation of their entity is to choose a registered trademark. This is not something to be chosen lightly, as the trademark will represent not only the owners, but also the products sold by a company.
Many company owners believe the process of choosing a trademark to be an easy one. In fact, it can be more of a challenge than expected, as a trademark must be able to be protected in addition to being marketable. To achieve these goals, the balance between a unique trademark and ease of that trademark’s management must be struck.
Brand Names – What to Consider Before You Choose One
In the United States, increased uniqueness with a distinct term is what makes it easier for companies to obtain exclusive rights as far as a registered trademark is concerned. The factor which influences the uniqueness of terms is called the “spectrum of distinctiveness”. This sliding scale runs the gamut from fanciful and arbitrary to generic.
The Descriptive Trademark
While it may be considered a weakness to the world of trademarks, choosing one that’s descriptive will result in the company owner having a much easier time to market it. This is because the descriptive trademark is just that; it describes the product being marketed. The descriptive trademark can be registered to a company if it can be proven that consumers are associating a single company with the registered trademark. However, the process of registering a descriptive trademark can become challenging should it be decided that secondary meaning must be established. This establishment occurs if the company owner is able to show extensive use and/or advertising of their trademark. If this cannot be accomplished, this can leave it open for competitors to use as they wish.
The Fanciful Trademark
“Fanciful” is defined as any term or phrase that has been coined, or in other words was devoid of meaning prior to becoming trademarked. An arbitrary trademark is usually an English word that’s considered to be common, but which doesn’t have a relationship with the service or product being sold by a company. The application of arbitrary to a trademark will be dependent on the context in which that trademark is being used. A type of fruit, for example becomes an arbitrary trademark when used to brand a computer company. However, when that fruit’s name is used by an actual fruit grower, the term becomes something descriptive.
Finding the Right Trademark
It can be a challenge to come up with a name that accurately describes your company while setting it apart from your competition. But there are actually many possibilities. For example, if a company owner is a fan of a particular era, they may wish to look to the terms used in that era, or the items of clothing worn by that era’s people. Or perhaps the company owners are fond of a painting by a particular artist. A beginning point can also be found by consulting the traits of certain animals. One common example of this is a dog’s loyalty.
Of course, a company owner can always choose to invent a brand name that’s completely new. However, the cost to educate a public not at all familiar with the trademark should be considered, as this can turn into a considerable expense.
Once a trademark has been established, it’s time to market it. This will involve placing the trademark on everything associated with the product or service, which can include advertising, literature, events sponsored by a company and other similar opportunities.
Licenses and Collateral
Once a trademark has become an established one, an owner can sell licenses to companies who may wish to sell the product or service. The revenue generated from the selling of licenses is added to the profit margin of a company. A trademark that’s considered valuable can even be used in cases where collateral must be secured prior to the granting of a loan.
One aspect of the trademark that many company owners aren’t aware of is that you only own a trademark as long as you’ve paid to register it. Usually, a trademark only needs to be registered every ten years on the anniversary date of the original trademark. But, as they say, time flies and a decade can go by very quickly, causing a business owner to forget to re-register. The good news is that a grace period of one year exists for business owners to re-register their trademark. However, during that year, another business owner can apply for it.