By Jess Collen
Economists tell us we need more skilled engineers, researchers, and nurse practitioners. But one thing we have in abundance is capable trademark lawyers, meaning there’s a pretty good chance the trademark lawyer you’ve hired has a depth of knowledge that will help you protect yourself and your brand.
Here are some key myths your lawyer in 2015 should be able to dispel:
One: You Have To Get Your Trademark Registered.
Trademark registration is really valuable, but don’t even try to get registration if your mark might be too similar to someone else’s registration, or might describe your product. You’re asking for trouble.
Two: I Can’t Get A Trademark Registration – I Don’t Have A Logo.
Logos can be registered, but so can words alone, or designs, or smells, or sounds, or container shapes, and sometimes domain names, hashtags or even colors.
Hundreds of thousands of trademark applications, covering literally millions of products and services, are filed in the United States every year. Brand names are more important today to the U.S. economy than they were ten years ago.
Three: If Your Trademark Application Gets Opposed By A Big Company You Should Just Give Up.
Not true. Many big companies have thousands — or tens of thousands — of trademarks all over the world which they must police. If there’s an easy way to find a solution, many sophisticated trademark owners are anxious to talk. Of course, companies are as different as people, with different corporate personalities and philosophies. But major trademark owners are often very pragmatic and responsible corporate citizens and, frankly, may not be all that concerned about your trademark if you are open to working with them.
Four: You Can Get An International Registration For Your Trademark.
OK, this one is technically true, but practically false. There is such a thing as an “international registration,” but it is really no more than an international application that makes it easier for you to seek registration in countries around the world. Don’t be fooled.
Five: If Someone Infringes Your Trademark, You Can Sue For Damages And Attorneys Fees.
Again, true but it’s a myth that Trademark infringement litigation is almost ever a moneymaking proposition after you pay for your own lawyer. Precious few parties in trademark infringement lawsuits ever qualify for attorneys’ fees, and even damages are notoriously difficult to get.
Six: A Cutesy Spelling Will Make Your Mark Distinctive.
Wrong again. Whether you spell “Kool” with a “K” or a “C,” the words are going to sound the same.
Seven: They Can’t Touch Me — I Own A Federal Registration.
Definitely untrue. Federal registration creates several legal “presumptions” about your trademark and your right to use the trademark. But it is far from bulletproof. In fact, in the first five years after registration, anyone can challenge your trademark registration for almost any reason they could have used to block your trademark application from becoming registered. Further, if a party used its mark before you did, they can stop you even if you have a registration and they have none.
Eight: Most Marks Are Going To End Up In A Conflict Somewhere Along The Line.
False. Statistics tell us that most trademarks are going to live carefree lives.