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A trademark can be the most important asset you purchase for your business and knowing when to get one can be the difference between good branding and a perfect disaster.
The purpose of a trademark is to protect your brand from competitors. A strong mark uniquely identifies your business so that customers can instantly recognize your work.
It's not unusual for small business owners to register trademarks and it's important to make sure that you register at the right time for maximum impact.
It's tempting to leave trademark registration to a time in the future when you've established your business. But doing that leaves you open to several problems.
It might be that when you go to file your trademark, you discover that it's close to someone else's in the industry.
Generally the first to file is entitled to the trademark and later users are considered infringers. Realizing that someone else owns your mark after you've built brand recognition means starting from square one to find a new way to identify your business. It can be difficult to let go of a mark that you've put a lot of time and effort into making your own.
A more serious concern in delaying a trademark is that someone else in the industry may start to capitalize on your hard-earned reputation.
If you haven't registered a trademark it's difficult to enforce your rights in the case of infringement. While there is an automatic "trademark protection by use," it can be hard to show who used a mark first if there is a dispute.
Registering a trademark is clear documentation of use and can help to protect your rights.
It's not complicated to register a trademark but the amount of time needed to do a thorough investigation before filing can be significant. Finding an attorney who specializes in trademarks can ensure that your brand is protected.
Good business is often a matter of timing and registering a trademark is no different. Knowing when to trademark is just another piece of building a strong business.