In short – yes, trademark registration is risky. This is mainly because you need to take into consideration multiple factors during the trademark registration process. Things like your name, logo and brand element are usually the deal breakers when it comes to trademark registration success.
But what risks are actually involved in the trademark registration process? And what does your brand name and other branding elements have to do with them? We’re going to go over all the risks associated with trademark registration and tell you how you can minimize them. Let’s dive straight in.
Risk #1: Someone Else Has Already Trademarked Your Brand Name
Finding out someone else has already trademarked your brand name is one of the biggest risks of trademark registration. This risk is a direct result of insufficient market research.
In the event that your brand name is already trademarked, then your trademark application will almost certainly be declined. You also risk finding yourself in a trademark infringement dispute for illegally using someone else’s trademark. This can be quite the blow. Any kind of legal action will hit you hard financially – and damage your brand’s reputation as well.
However, there are some instances when you can trademark similar marks. For instance, if you want to register your mark under a different trademark class, you might be successful in doing so. Or if your products and services are highly unlikely to cause market confusion, then your trademark might be approved also. The trademark dispute between Monster Energy and Monsta Pizza is a perfect example of this. Nevertheless, you should consult trademark professionals before taking this risk.
Risk #2: You Haven’t Run a Trademark Search
Not running a trademark search is a huge risk. You risk developing your brand to a certain point and then be forced to a standstill. Imagine what would happen if you continuously invest in developing your brand only to discover that someone else is already using the same name. You’d be utterly devastated.
You would have to change your name, logo, web domain, marketing materials and all things previously connected to your brand. This will cost you an arm and a leg. Also, it will take a lot of time to successfully rebrand.
Completing a trademark search will give you much needed insight into other brands’ trademarks, like whether a specific mark is already registered or not. This simple step will save you a lot of money and energy later down the road. Not to mention it will lower several trademark registration risks, such as forced rebranding and infringement lawsuits.
Luckily, you don’t have to pay huge sums for a thorough trademark search. Complete a free trademark check and see what the results have to say about your mark’s eligibility.
Risk #3: Your Brand Name Is Merely Descriptive
When choosing a brand name, many companies are geared towards choosing a brand name that describes their products and services. The logic behind this is that consumers will know right away what your brand is selling. Although this does make sense, choosing a descriptive name is actually a bad idea. This is because you can’t trademark and protect descriptive brand names as it is unfair to other competitor businesses.
A mark is considered merely descriptive if it describes a characteristic, quality, function, or feature of specific goods and services. For instance, a company that sells laptops called “Large Screens” cannot trademark the name. This is because it merely describes a specific characteristic of the products.
Similarly, a brand selling ice cream cannot trademark the name “Smooth & Creamy” because it merely describes a specific quality. Therefore, it’s best to choose a great brand name from the get-go to avoid hefty rebranding costs later on.
You might be interested in: 5 Reasons Why Your Brand Name Should Not Describe Your Business Activity
Risk #4: You Aren’t Actively Using Your Mark
One of the requirements of trademark registration is actively using the mark. This is to prove that the mark is actually a key part of the brand it represents. If you are not using or planning to use the mark actively then your trademark registration application may be rejected.
Additionally, you need to show evidence of active and continuous use of the mark when applying for trademark renewal. After all, your trademark doesn’t last indefinitely. So it’s important to be mindful of the trademark registration and renewal rules beforehand, including actively using the mark.
What Are the Risks of NOT Registering Your Mark?
Though trademark registration can appear quite complex and risky, the risks of not registering your trademark are even greater. Here are some of the risks of not registering your mark:
Investors Won’t Invest in Your Business
Having a registered mark shows investors that you are building a serious brand. It demonstrates professional competence and offers valuable collateral. Investors love brands that invest in their own growth. This is why you shouldn’t hold back from building a strong international brand with the help of trademarks.
You Can’t Protect Your Brand from Infringement
Without an active trademark you risk leaving your brand completely unprotected against trademark infringers. This means someone else can steal your brand name, adopt your consumers, and have a slice of your profits. And you wouldn’t be able to do much about it. In order to ensure no one can use your mark – or a confusingly similar one – then trademark registration is advisable.
Trademark Registration Risks: The Takeaways
There will always be various risks associated with the trademark registration process. But rather than fear them you should be prepared for them. Whether it’s reviewing your branding elements, doing thorough market research, or developing a clear branding strategy, you should be aware of all the risks involved with trademark registration – and embrace them.
Get more information about trademark registration by speaking with international trademark professionals. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.