Earlier this year, Microsoft was on the losing side in an English court that ruled the software giant’s SkyDrive cloud storage service had infringed on the trademark of British broadcasting company’s BSkyB. Microsoft decided to rebrand the service instead of appealing the ruling. In reality, both options are very expensive, on top of expensive litigation. It is likely that Microsoft can absorb and recover from that cost more easily than your small or medium sized business.
Before your company has a misstep with intellectual property litigation, consider these tips for developing and protecting a brand:
Make it unique. While it may be inviting to choose a common name, these choices are often much harder to protect.
Conduct a thorough search. Search the Internet for the name you are contemplating to see if it already exists. Go past the first page or two of search results – take the time to be thorough before you proceed. In addition, be sure to do a trademark search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website for the intended name as well as variations on that name.
Register the name. As soon as you have the all clear for your name, register your trademarks promptly. Be sure to register the name in all the classes that pertain to your business. You will likely need the assistance of a business attorney to do this right.
Protect the brand. Set up a Google Alert on each of your trademarks so you can get a heads-up if someone else is using your brand name. If you discover that someone has appropriated your brand name or a similar version, it is important to have a cease-and-desist letter sent immediately.
If you are interested in learning more about intellectual property protection strategies, call us today at (612) 206-3701 or fill out our contact form to schedule a small business consultation session.
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