Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Small Business Blog: Why you should trademark your brand

Why you should trademark your brand

By Kimberly Shin, Esq. and Joseph Kang


Trademarks are essential to protecting your business’s goodwill and reputation. Imagine the Nike trademark with its “swoosh” logo and “just do it” slogan. What would have happened if Nike did not protect its logo and slogan with a trademark? There would be many copycat businesses that crop up, taking advantage of the opportunity to associate itself with the primary brand. What would then happen to the Nike brand? It would be diluted, its value would diminish, and its reputation would be tarnished, especially since copycat brands would likely offer a lower quality product.

Trademarks help establish your unique brand in the marketplace. A trademark is defined as a brand for a company made up of words, slogans, taglines, symbols, designs, or a combination of these. It can even include sounds and smells. Trademarks are used to prevent confusion in the marketplace so that consumers can identify the source of what they are buying. They are an essential component of a business plan.  With a trademark, customers can distinguish between the products and services and quality that your business offers compared to its competitors.

When you initially formed your business idea, it’s likely that you had an “Aha!” moment where you thought of the perfect name for your business. Maybe it was witty or sophisticated or something unique and never-before-seen in the marketplace. Before you start sharing it with the world, consider how you would feel if someone were to steal that name and use it themselves before you did?  Maybe they are in another state, and they are opening a similar business as you with the same exact name. You might think that it doesn’t involve you, but imagine what will happen when your business grows to more and more locations? Then that other business might end up being a thorn in your side and prevent you from using your own name in commerce if they trademarked the name first or argued that they began to use the business name at the same time you did.

Furthermore, what will happen if you eventually want to sell your business? Your trademarked name or slogan might be one of the most valuable assets in your business. This isn’t unusual. For example, Coca Cola’s trademark is worth approximately 77% of the company. Intel’s trademark is worth approximately 27% of the company. And Microsoft’s trademark is worth approximately 25%. You might not be a public company like these multinational corporations, you might be a blogger or a YouTuber or a podcaster. If you eventually want to sell your brand, it’s likely that your blog/channel/podcast name will be a significant part of your business’s value. If your business name is not trademarked, however, your business could be valued lower; hence, resulting in less cash for you.

Although trademarking your business name may not be the first thought that comes to mind, many businessowners do think of what they would name their business, before doing anything else. If the business name is so important that you create large neon signs with it and include it in all of your marketing material, isn’t it worth protecting? Your business name is a part of your business identity and its value grows as your business grows. If you want to protect your business name and the goodwill (or reputation) associated with your business name, consider registering a trademark.

At Kimberly Shin Law Firm PLLC, we help you register and monitor your trademarks so that you are protecting the value of your business name.


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