The Risk Of Not Registering Your Trademark

Kitty Your Ad Here by Shannon Kringen

If you’re a small business owner you probably created an LLC. You may have even registered your trade name with the Secretary of State. A lot of small businesses don’t see the value in registering their trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). If you register your mark with the USPTO, you can prevent anyone in the country from using your mark in their business in a confusingly similar way.

If you’re a local business, you may question the value in being able to claim your trademark in all 50 states. The question you should ask is, “What do I risk if I don’t?” Let me tell you a story.

The Finer Things in Life by comedy_nose

The first Burger King restaurant was little place in Mattoon, Illinois. It looks like a mom and pop restaurant. They didn’t register their trademark with the USPTO. After this Burger King opened, the Burger King franchise as we know it was created, and they registered the Burger King trademark with the USPTO. The original Burger King was allowed to continue doing business, but it’s limited to its existing market, which is a 20-mile radius around the restaurant. Burger King franchises can be everywhere else in the United States and the original Burger King can’t expand beyond the 20-mile boundary.

If you have a small business and you have plans to expand, you want to be the first to register your trademark, because if you don’t, you might find yourself being boxed into a limited area if your competition registers the mark. Even if you don’t have plans to expand much, you want the ability to take advantage of a golden growth opportunity if it comes along. If your competition registers their mark first, you might find yourself in a situation where you have to change your name and rebrand yourself to be able to expand your business.

New businesses put hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars in branding themselves. Ideally, you should decide what you want your trademark to be, check the USPTO to make sure no one is using your desired trademark, and consult a trademark attorney about registering the mark for your business. You may not be growing by leaps and bounds today, but you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where that’s not possible for you or only an option if you spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars rebranding yourself.

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  1. […] you have a business, you have intellectual property – at least copyrights and trademarks, and perhaps trade secrets and patentable ideas. Create an intellectual property strategy to […]

  2. […] the business name on your products and someone registers the name before you, you’ll be in the Burger King situation where you can keep using your name, but only in your established […]

  3. […] A trademark is the words, slogans, logos, colors, packaging, etc., you put on your products that differentiate you from your competition. If you don’t register your trademark, you get the exclusive right to use your marks where you’ve established your market. When you register your trademark, you get the exclusive rights to use your marks on your type of products everywhere in the U.S. If you want to know more about trademarks, check the story behind the Burger King trademark. […]

  4. […] are companies who were using the same trademark before you registered yours with the USPTO (i.e., the Burger King situation) or companies that use a similar trademark but on a product that is so different from yours that no […]

  5. […] also an advocate of registering your trademark as soon as you can afford it, so no one can restrict your use of your own name or steal it from […]

  6. […] When I saw this situation where it looked like another company ripped off an individual blogger’s idea and name for themselves and basically (temporarily) stole it out from under him by registering the trademark, I became scared for every person I know who has an amazing blog or vlog. I don’t want to see them in the same predicament. It also reminded me to be a diligent about reminding and re-reminding my clients who are startup entrepreneurs about the importance or registering their trademarks so they don’t end up in the Burger King situation. […]

  7. […] A lot of beginning artists and people who create art as a hobby don’t understand their rights and how they can avoid problems like this by registering their trademark before their competition does. Or if they understand their rights, they don’t invest the money to file the proper applications with the federal government. These types of problems happen all the time. Check out what happened when two restaurants decided to call themselves “Burger King.” […]

  8. […] the online world. The most infamous trademark story I know in the brick-and-mortar world is about two different Burger King restaurants. The most infamous situation in the blogosphere is the Turner Barr […]

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