Trademark Considerations to Protect Your Name
By Lance Winslow
In Trademark Law; first use is the key, but still you need to document this and get a trademark at the Federal Level or a service mark at the state level. Without it you may find a bigger firm moving into your area, which had used your name in interstate commerce prior to your local use and thus they can make you change your name.
Imagine the cost in changing all your signage and disrupting your good will with your brand name in your local market. This confuses customers and puts a question mark about your credibility where none had previously existed.
How hard is it to get a trademark? Well not so difficult once you do a search to make sure no one else is using this name or a similar symbol elsewhere. Generally service marks or trademarks are searched by category and so if you are in a cross-over type category or straddle several SIC codes it makes sense to search it thoroughly and find a competent patent and trademark attorney to do it correctly.
If no one challenges you during the initial term of your trademark you can file for a permanent trademark so be sure to ask your trademark attorney about this also. Protect your logos and business name, as it is not worth the risk if you have a successful and on-going business to allow this to slide. Think on this in 2006.
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