When it comes to your equipment business, your most important brand asset is your name. Think about it; it’s your business name that people share when referring your products to colleagues. But if your industrial equipment business doesn’t have a federally registered trademark on its name, your whole business and your reputation are in jeopardy.
Operating your business without a trademark on your business name is the equivalent of intentionally building your operating plant on a shaky foundation. Let’s take a closer look at what equipment businesses need to know about trademarks and the trademark process.
Trademarks Benefit Your Business Today & In the Future
If you own a federal trademark registration for your equipment business’ name, you, in essence, have a presumption of national validity that you have legal rights to that name, which will make it much easier for any court to rule in your favor should any legal issue arise.
Imagine for a moment that you own the trademark registration for the equipment business name BLUEFOOTE INDUSTRIAL. This means that if another equipment company (or even a firm in a related industry, like construction or building supplies) were to open a business using your exact name or even a name that was confusingly similar (like BLUE FOOT EQUIPMENT) your federal trademark would give you and your attorney an avenue for legal recourse.
Obtaining a trademark registration for your equipment business name today also offers you protection into the future, assuming you keep your registration updated. Registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) means that your name is protected across the United States.
If you decide to expand your business to multiple locations (including across state lines) or even sell your business, you can move forward without needing to worry about having to re-brand or change your name.
Trademark Your Logo After Your Business Name
Many small business owners think that they’ll kill two birds with one stone and register only for trademark protection of their logo because their logo inherently includes their business name. But this is not always a wise decision.
The reality is that when you gain trademark protection on your logo, you receive protection on your business name only as it appears within the graphic context of your logo—so if your trademark application includes your logo where BLUEFOOTE INDUSTRIAL is written in italics in 14-point light cyan Trebuchet font, you would have to always use that logo (with your name in italics in 14-point light cyan Trebuchet font) to maintain your federal trademark registration. I
f you create a new logo in 4 months or 3 years, your federal registration would no longer apply and your business name would likely lose federal trademark registration benefits. For the broadest level of protection, work with your attorney to apply for your company name in one application, then other brand elements in separate applications.
Monitor for Infringing Use after Registration
Once the USPTO has issued your registered trademark, it is up to you to make sure that no one else is infringing on it. If you don’t, you can lose your exclusive rights to your trademark.
Working with your attorney, make sure that other equipment companies, construction firms and businesses with similar products/services aren’t using your same or a similar name. Follow your attorney’s guidance as to what action you need to take if you find evidence of infringement.
Protecting Your Brand & Your Reputation
A federally-registered trademark is an investment in your equipment business’ branding and future. Avoid the common mistake of filing for the more limited trademark protection offered on logos, and opt for the broader protection given to business names instead. And be certain to monitor for potential infringement after you obtain your federal trademark.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll be taking steps to protect the brand you’ve worked so hard to build.
Featured in a variety of national news outlets including FOX News, NPR and The Wall Street Journal, Josh Gerben was named one of 2016’s Top 10 trademark filers in the US by World Trademark Review.