Applying for a trademark, copyright, or patent is just one part of having a comprehensive plan in place for your business or brand’s intellectual property (IP). Far too many people believe that once the initial application process is over that they are fully protected and no further steps need to be taken. This is just not the case.
The truth is that it’s your responsibility to keep a watchful eye on your IP. You should constantly be on the lookout to ensure that others are not infringing on your rights, that you aren’t missing any key dates that could cause your marks to lapse, and that you aren’t overlooking additional opportunities to safeguard what you are working so hard to build. Here are seven specific tips to keep in mind once you are granted approval for your trademark, patent or copyright:
- Review your IP each year: Did you launch a new product with a name or logo that needs to be protected? Have you invented something new that may qualify for a patent? Do you have a process or procedure you are using that sets you apart from the competition that should get locked down as a trade secret? Ask yourself these questions yearly so you don’t miss any opportunities to protect your business or brand.
- Set up Google Alerts: This is the easiest way to “watch the web” to make sure that no one else infringing on your IP. If you see something that’s a blatant violation of your patent, trademark or copyright, or it looks too close for comfort, contact your attorney as soon as possible.
- Watch out for scammers: Be wary of any correspondence claiming to be from the USPTO asking for money for “overdue fees” or “registry charges.” Most of these are scams. All official communication from the USPTO will be sent from their Alexandria, Virginia address or from the uspto.gov email address.
- Calendar your renewal deadlines: At some point you will have to pay fees to renew your marks. These happen at different intervals and your attorney will let you know what they are so that you can mark them on your calendar. If you miss these periods, you could lose your marks so keep a close eye on all deadlines.
- Purchase domain names that correspond to your marks: Even if you don’t use them, it will stop others from doing so!
- Use the proper symbols: For example, use the Ô mark while your trademark is pending to put others on notice of your application. Once it’s approved you should be using the Ò symbol on your packaging, website, and other marketing. Same is true for using the Ó on your copyrighted works and marking your patented inventions
- Call your lawyer right away if you even **think** someone is using a word, phrase or logo that’s too similar to yours: If something feels wrong, you should reach out to your lawyer. Stopping infringement as early as possible is critical before the other party gets to financially invested into their products or services that cross the line.
As you can see, many of these steps are dependent on having an ongoing relationship with an intellectual property lawyer. There are many questions and issues that can come up over the lifetime of your trademark, patent or copyright ownership, and having open line of communication with an attorney is key to your ongoing protection and peace of mind.
If you don’t have this kind of relationship with a lawyer and you want to explore your options for protecting your intellectual property, we would be happy to meet with you for a discovery session via phone, video conference, or in person at our Charleston, South Carolina office. To schedule an appointment, simply contact us at (888) 666-0062.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposesonly and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.