Trademarks are valuable intellectual property assets in that they are the only form of intellectual property that effectively has no term. Although trademarks must be renewed every ten years, so long as a trademark is properly used in interstate commerce in connection with its registered goods and/or services, a trademark can be active for as long as it is in use.
This begs the question, how do you properly use your trademark and protect it from being challenged by third parties? Consistency is key and we offer a number of tips to ensure your mark is properly used for the goods and/or services for which it is registered:
- Create brand standard guidelines – if your creative services agency has not already created these for you, we can help. Regardless, your brand standard guidelines should always be reviewed by your trademark counsel. These should be disseminated to your marketing department and all of your creative services agencies to be sure everyone working with your brand is aware of how important your trademarks are to you.
- Use your trademarks properly and consistently – for instance, ensure your trademark counsel is reviewing any new creative content to ensure that the mark is not being used descriptively or if there are new goods/services being used in connection with the mark, that new applications are filed immediately.
- Be careful when changing logos and stylizations – when logo and stylized marks are registered, the registration only applies to exactly what appears in the registration. Your marketing team may want to update the appearance, but this can void the trademark. Be sure you discuss such modernizations with your trademark counsel first.
- Have a social media plan – use of your trademarks on social media should be reviewed with your trademark counsel. We regularly review our clients’ social media posts in advance to be sure that the posts will not compromise the brand standards or create any other trademark or rights of publicity issues.
- Influencers need to be monitored – if you work with influencers to build your brand and business, be sure to talk with us, as there are a number of legal issues that can arise from a trademark and advertising compliance standpoint.
Applying to register your mark is the first step. What you do to grow and protect your brand is an ongoing effort and we’re here to help. Please feel free to contact us for any assistance or price quote on any of the above.
Stacey C. Kalamaras is the founding partner of Kalamaras Law Office, LLC. She has extensive intellectual property experience with a particular focus on trademark prosecution and enforcement. She has protected some the world’s largest brands in more than 150 countries and specializes in helping small and medium sized businesses grow and protect their brands. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stacey is also the founder and lead instructor of Trademarkabilities®, an online trademark academy for lawyers, whose mission it is to prepare lawyers to be confident and effective practitioners before the USPTO. To learn more, please visit https://www.trademarkabilities.com/.