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By Josh Gerben
Florida Construction News special feature
When your business has a registered trademark, you’re protecting the essence of you: your name, brand, logos, taglines, and the work you produce. As a construction company, your brand is trusted to build safe developments that are beautiful and functional. Every project is a testament to your reputation. A federally-registered trademark ensures that the credibility and benefits associated with your name and work belong to you. Infringement on your brand can cause consequences such as damage to your reputation, customer confusion and loss of revenue. This article will discuss why a registered trademark is so important and the benefits your company could reap from protecting your identity in this way.
Things you should know about seeking a trademark registration
Before filing a trademark application there are a few things to consider. Filing is easy and accessible to everyone but it does require time. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reviews around 450,000 applications per year, meaning that before your application is reviewed it will sit in process for about six months. The entire process takes up to 10-14 months to reach full approval. So ensuring that you apply as soon as you are ready allows you to begin the process before you truly need it. Once the application is complete, it is reviewed by a USPTO examiner to move on to the next stages of approval, as detailed in this video.
Before filing it is important to identify what products or services you offer actually qualify for the protection of a registered trademark. For context, the USPTO has 45 classes of goods and services, in order to file for a trademark effectively your company needs to be appropriately categorized into one of these classes. In addition to this, it is important to note that your name or service must be unique enough to qualify for a trademark. Determining this could be as simple as conducting some research around your proposed trademark to identify any potential violations of existing registered trademarks.
The shield of a registered trademark protects the things that are important to your business: your name, your brand and your intellectual property. According to a study done by Clarivate Analytics (PR Newswire, 2020), 85% of brands experienced some form of trademark infringement in 2019. This extended beyond the use of a brand name. It can include infringement on social media pages, website domains, and even advertising campaigns (PR Newswire, 2020). A successfully registered trademark will protect your business assets from any competitors looking to capitalize off of your reputation. Any competitor that tries to use your intellectual property will face serious legal consequences when infringing on your registered trademark.
A registered trademark is tantamount to putting your company’s name on a Broadway marquee, it immediately lets people know who the work they admire is credited to. When it’s easy to identify who you are, the room for growth expands. Not only will you be more recognizable to potential clients, but you’ll also be top of mind for quality talent seeking employment somewhere notable.
Say you’d like to expand your company through franchising one day. If you want to franchise your business and start building in a new area, that will require lending a level of trust with your brand and reputation to a franchise owner. Even if you do not want to franchise, the person you put in charge of the new branch in a new area will have to understand how your brand works in order to build it credibly. That dream is significantly more achievable when you’ve obtained a registered trademark that protects the use of your brand. When your brand is being used by a franchise owner or employee at a distance, having your assets protected can lend a sense of security and mitigate risk for that individual and your company.
Having a registered trademark is proactive. If the day comes where a competitor is taking advantage of your intellectual property, with a registered trademark you have a higher level of protection against this kind of infringement. Even simply having a trademark could deter someone from infringing on it. The use of the ® on your brand name and products is a clear sign to anyone looking to copy your work that they will face consequences for doing so. It’s comparable to having a sign on your lawn stating that you have a security system, someone would be less compelled to attempt a break-in if they know their chances of getting caught are higher.
In a dispute, this level of protection could lead to a simple, quick resolution due to your legal proactivity in protecting your assets. Moreover, the money invested into obtaining a registered trademark could be easily returned in what you would save during a dispute.
Things to consider once you’ve filed
Once you’ve filed, it is important to remember that you are responsible for the upkeep and enforcement of your trademark. One important thing to consider is your ability to file maintenance documents on time to keep your trademark up to date. This also means that it is up to your company to take action against a business that may be infringing your trademark. When a situation like this has been identified, it is important to promptly consult an attorney to send a “cease and desist” letter. While you need to maintain your registration, once you have successfully filed for a registered trademark, you’re protected in perpetuity.
All this to say, a registered trademark helps you protect your business from a variety of threats. From a competitor taking credit for your work to your brand reputation to the cost to defend yourself without this protection, being proactive and protecting your assets can save you from major headaches in the future.
The work your company produces acts as a billboard for what you can achieve. Any building that bears your name is out there for the world to see and lends you credibility. Going through the relatively simple process of trademark registration can mean the difference between owning what you’ve created or being at risk of your intellectual property being used without your permission. Your brand stands for so much of who you are, don’t leave it without the protection it deserves.
Josh Gerben is the founder of Gerben Intellectual Property, a full-service IP law firm that services clients from multiple offices throughout the U.S, including the Miami area location. Josh and his team offer a wide range of trademark, patent, and copyright services. Josh is featured in a range of national news outlets, including The Washington Post, NPR, Fox News, and more.
Clarivate Analytics. “Trademark Infringement Rising Year-on-Year, Says Compumark Report.” Trademark Infringement Rising Year-on-Year, Says CompuMark Report, PR Newswire, 14 Jan. 2020, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/trademark-infringement-rising-year-on-year-says-compumark-report-300986014.html.
Demcak, Igor. “12 Good Reasons for Construction Companies to Register a Trademark.” Register Your Trademark, Dec. 2020, https://tramatm.com/blog/category/construction/12-good-reasons-for-construction-companies-to-register-a-trademark.
Gerben Intellectual Property. How the Trademark Registration Process Works. YouTube, Gerben Intellectual Property, 17 Nov. 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q_QCuRa1nw.
Haskins, Jane. “5 Things Business Owners Should Know about Trademarks.” LegalZoom, Legalzoom.com, 9 June 2021, https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/5-things-business-owners-should-know-about-trademarks.
“Understanding Trademark Laws in Construction – Cotney Attorneys & Consultants.” Cotney Attorneys & Consultants -, 9 Aug. 2021, https://www.cotneycl.com/understanding-trademark-laws-in-construction/.