My apologies for the lack of posts, but the studio is running at full capacity! Not only do we have some AMAZING small business branding projects in the works, but we're also gearing up for our last Pop-Up Stamp Shop of 2014. PLUS, we've officially filed for two trademarks at the USPTO. Yes, yes, we specialize in branding yet we hadn't gone through the trouble of protecting our own investment. Oh, the shaaame!
Well...at the risk of sounding like I have no self esteem whatsoever, I had been banking on the fact that 1) no one would ever think of using Akula Kreative as their business name, and 2) my li'l sole proprietorship would never grow into something big enough to warrant a trademark. But hey! We've made it this far and I'm very proud of the work we've produced over the past six years. Now it's time to protect our name, our work, and our reputation.
TRADEMARK TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS
As someone who designs custom logos for small businesses, I thought it would be helpful to outline a few things I've learned during this trademark process. Note :: I am NOT a lawyer, and I am NOT offering legal advice. I have not been paid to say any of this, and none of the information below should be considered legal counsel. Please consult a lawyer for accurate and up-to-date information.
- Before you start, you need to get a bunch of stuff prepared, including (but not limited to):
• A .jpg file of the specific logo you want to trademark*
• Important business dates (i.e., when you went public with your logo(s))
• A description of what your logo looks like
• Photos (in .jpg format) of your logo used publicly (e.g., website, brochure, packaged goods, etc.)
• Your trademark classification according to the International Schedule of Goods and Services (i.e., your business sector)
*One application must be filed for one business name, logo, slogan, or sound. This means that if you use two logo variations, that's two apps. You'll have to pay at least one government filing fee per app, not including attorney fees. (See the fee schedule here.) Be sure to read the FAQs before starting the online process!
- You don't have to hire an attorney or law firm to help you, but, in my opinion, it will save you time and hassle. For example, I didn't want to have to search for similar marks in my classification, so I hired someone. If there ARE any conflicts, at least you'll have a professional who can help you through it!
- As far as I know, once your application is approved by an attorney, it is then filed with the USPTO. It can take up to a year to receive your registered trademark. In the meantime, you can use the nifty ™ to "claim" your business name or logo. Once you're official, you can use ®.
While you're working with your designer, let him/her know that you intend to trademark your logo(s). This way, you can have the designer prep some of the files you'll need, add the ™ to your marks, and provide a description of the logo(s) using the appropriate typographic jargon.
Again...this is not legal advice; I'm simply sharing my personal experience as an introduction to the process. I HIGHLY recommend hiring a lawyer to help you through the process, whether it's online or through a local firm.
Cheers to small business!