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Trademarks and Intellectual Property Considerations for New Businesses

May 18, 2023

Trademark law (TM) may be the last thing on your mind as you go through the stages of business formation and setup. However, considering its potential impact on your company could benefit you immensely down the line.

For instance, it’s much easier to establish protections before any real work on the business begins. Having these protections in place at the outset provides an avenue for dispute resolution should the ownership of intellectual property (IP) come into question later.

A common question for new business owners and startup ventures is what kind of trademark protections they need and what part of their business is considered intellectual property. The trademark lawyers at Quadros, Migi & Crosby are here to provide insight into what kind of IP protections a new business owner should consider.

What Are Trademarks?

A new company’s brand is established from the outset — starting with the name. Branding is a critical part of ensuring the success of a new business, creating a “business personality,” and setting this business apart from similar ones.

Trademarks are legal protections afforded to intellectual property, and they include creations such as:

  • Business name
  • Business logo
  • Slogans, jingles or tunes related to business advertising

Trademarks serve to inform a customer of the exact brand or business offering a product or service. For example, Apple(™), Coca-Cola (™), and Subaru (™) are all trademarked brand names. Each also has trademarked logos and other identifying marks, like Coke’s distinctive red-and-white swirl logo.

Protecting a trademark prevents confusion for customers. It also serves the vital function of providing brand protection from imitators.

When starting a new business, it’s important to immediately trademark all relevant expressions of the brand. A trademark lawyer can help entrepreneurs determine whether their selected name and other branding are already trademarked and file the necessary applications.

The Value of Trademark Protections

What is the true value of a trademark, and why is it important to have legal protection for it? A trademark’s true value lies in the worth of the brand. Not only does a trademark serve to distinguish one business and its products from another, but it also informs the consumer of what they can expect from the product or service.

For example, suppose that a customer sees a cola bottle with a red and white logo in the distinctive Coca-Cola pattern. That consumer expects the soda to taste a certain way. An imitation cola brand may have a red and white logo and a similar name, like Coca-Loco, in an attempt to align its product with the established quality of Coca-Cola.

Protecting the integrity of a product or service is another function of a trademarked logo or other identifying brand mark. The value of this protection can reach into the millions for two key reasons:

  • The original brand may lose market share to the mimicking competitor
  • An inferior knock-off product dilutes the brand’s value

Trademark infringement affects the integrity of an original brand and causes the business to lose revenue.

What Kind of Trademark Protections Does a New Business Need?

Your new business name, logo, and any kind of advertising catchphrase can all be trademarked. Federal law provides legal protection for trademarks. It also offers a legal vehicle for businesses to collect damages from infringing parties.

Trademarks are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). They’re valid in every state and U.S. territory.

Trademarks may not be the only type of intellectual property that a new business venture must legally protect. If your goods or services are unique enough, you may need other forms of protection, like a copyright or patent. The USPTO offers an IP assessment tool for new business owners to ensure they file for the correct protections. A trademark attorney can guide you through this process providing legal advice and insights.

A trademark lawyer can help you determine which elements of your branding qualify for trademarks and file the corresponding application with the USPTO. They can also help with trademark enforcement if a competing business uses branding close enough to your own that a consumer could easily confuse the two products.

Do You Need Help with Trademark Protection for a New Business?

If you’re starting a new venture, ensure that your brand image is protected from the start. The Texas trademark attorneys at Quadros, Migi & Crosby work with startups and business owners to file for trademark protections and protect against trademark infringement and other unlawful uses of a business’s intellectual property. Contact us today to get started.