Avoiding Trademark Pitfalls

Why Not Use A Low Cost Online Provider for your Trademark Registration?

When someone wants to protect, they don’t just need a simple registration form completed and then filed. Frankly, anyone can complete a form. However, even a well prepared form may not get you the trademark protection you wanted. Did you know it is possible to get a mark registered that infringes on someone else’s mark? Did you know the Trademark Office does not check the 50 state trademark registers when reviewing an application? Did you know about half of the enforceable marks are not registered at all? What business owners really need to avoid problems is counseling on brand strategy including selecting, clearing, and registering the proposed mark for use that meets the federal criteria:

  1. The mark must be “distinctive”, “not descriptive,” and an indicator of source in the mind of the public.
  2. Although not technically required, the mark should be “cleared” to ensure it does not infringe on anyone else’s trademark rights.
  3. The mark must not violate any of the Trademark Office’s prohibitions, and otherwise comply with trademark procedural and substantive rules and requirements. These include things such as file size, not containing slurs or offensive terms and images and other technicalities.

A business can suffer critical harm if it doesn’t have comprehensive legal guidance. How critical? Many companies go bankrupt from failing. Rebranding can cause loss of market share. Attorney fees for legal defense can put you in the red.

Don’t let this be you. A company used a descriptive name as their trademark, a mark that was not “distinctive.”  They met with great success, sales were climbing, and life was looking good. Then they discovered a competitor’s campaign to steal their customers by selling low quality knockoffs, using the same brand name! Not only did they lose all of their customers, they actually started getting returns and hate mail from people who bought the sub quality knockoffs! Since they used a trademark that was not legally distinctive, it couldn’t do anything to stop this kind of theft from happening.

Online services are typically document preparation services and offers help with simple registration documents. This isn’t very valuable.

They DON’T help you select a name that is protectable or create an overall brand protection strategy, and they can’t even advise you if they KNOW your mark is not legally protectable. (This would be the unauthorized practice of law.) All they do it fill out forms, “at your direction.” If you knew how to do it, you’d probably have done it yourself. You are not likely an expert qualified to oversee their work.

They DON’T provide clearance searches, or if they do, they do not INTERPRET the results. Their searches report only raw data, and there is no legal guidance as to whether any of the cited data could represent a threat to you. They provide none of the legal guidance that you need because they are not a law firm. The legal services that they do offer, through their attorneys, end up costing about as much, if not more, than you would pay to a regular attorney who works specifically for you, and not for the online document preparation service.

Tracy Jong Law Firm provides the LEGAL GUIDANCE that you need for brand strategy and protection; for fees that provide long term return on investment. Our fees are the greatest investment you can make in the future health and long term value of your company. For more information, feel free to call or email to arrange a strategy session.


          Tracy_Jong   About Tracy Jong

Tracy Jong has been an attorney for more than 20 years,      representing restaurants, bars, and craft beverage manufacturers in a wide array of legal matters. She is also a licensed patent attorney.

Her book Everything You Need To Know About Obtaining and Maintaining a New York Retail Liquor License: The Definitive Guide to Navigating the State Liquor Authority will be available next month on Amazon.com as a softcover and Kindle e-book.

Her legal column is available in The Equipped Brewer, a publication giving business advice, trends, and vendor reviews to help craft breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries build brands and succeed financially.

She also maintains a website and blog with practical information on legal and business issues affecting the industry. Follow her, sign up for her free firm app or monthly newsletter.



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