For Meghan Trainor, Grammy Award winning music performer, it may indeed be “all about that bass,” but in the modern business world with its short attention span, page view counters, and widespread social media, “it’s all about that brand.” Entrepreneurs and established business alike are search for their brand. Even those businesses that have one already are spending enormous amounts on keeping it before the eyes and ears of customers.
There is a lot to consider as one contemplates building one’s brand. Properly prepared and run, a branding campaign can spell success. Skimp on your program, and your business could flounder. Moreover, it could easily run into legal trouble. We offer four special insights into how skimping can be legally deadly to your future.
Insight One: Branding Requires Deliberative Work
Branding isn’t a web site; it’s much more than a logo. It cannot be captured by the 500 business cards for $10 offering at the local office supply store. It’s your story and only you can really tell it. What’s more, if you can’t tell your story, no one else will be able to do so. Recognize, therefore, that branding is deliberative work. Yes, it requires creativity, but it requires focus and research. Will your brand conflict with existing trademarks in the current market? Will it conflict with trademarks in markets that you have not yet contemplated? Skimp on trademark research and could face expensive litigation in the future.
Insight Two: Don’t Skimp on Domain Names
Every brand should be intertwined with an Internet presence. Business attorneys circulate stories of businesses that spent thousands of dollars on a slick logo and brand campaign only to discover that the Internet domain name is unavailable. Check this out before you’ve written the first check for branding. Moreover, if you’ve settled on a domain name, don’t stop just with the “dotcom” or the “dotorg” domains; tie up misspellings, singular and plural versions of your brand, and phonetically similar domain names. This will cost you extra in the beginning; it will save in the long run.
Insight Three: Don’t Try Registering Your Trademark on Your Own
Many in business think that a trade name must be identical to another in order to be problematic. It isn’t true. In a significant segment of trademark litigation, the issue is whether there could be a likelihood of confusion between your brand and another in the consumer’s mind, not in your mind.
Insight Four: Failing to Enforce Your Brand Trademark
Once you have your trademark – your brand – you need to guard it. Following federal trademark registration for your brand, you can stop others from using it in the marketplace. You can waive the right to do so, however, if you fail to monitor and enforce your trademark. You must regularly spend some time (and usually some money) to find infringements, and then take action to stop the infringement. Once you have allowed one business to infringe, it becomes difficult – sometimes impossible – to enforce your brand in the future.
Distribution Agreements: Skilled, Experienced Legal Counsel a Key
The law firm of CKB VIENNA LLP provides legal and business consultation to nearly every type of business, from large to small – even to startups and nonprofits. We have helped with branding issues and have assisted numbers of businesses in trademark research, due diligence research, and in various forms of associated litigation. And while the firm is skilled in all forms of litigation, our attorneys also provide preventive training and offer guidance designed to avoid the consequence and cost of litigation. CKB VIENNA LLP has a long history of representing clients in all types of business issues and disputes. We have offices in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles. Contact us by telephone – 909-980-1040 – or complete our online form.