As a small business owner, trademarks can be vital to growing your brand and expanding your business. If you don’t already have trademarks as a part of your business plan, it’s time to consider adding it. Here are some of the answers to frequently asked questions about trademarks by fellow wedding professionals.

What Are Trademarks?

Trademarks are defined as a word, slogan, symbol, design, or sound registered to a company, person, or product. When something is trademarked, it’s illegal for someone to use it without permission from the person or company to whom it is registered. You’ll notice an encircled letter R to designate that it has been trademarked. Some examples of things that are trademarked include the Nike swoosh, Burger King’s slogan “Have it your way”, the NBC chimes, or the Kate Spade name. If someone were to use one of these trademarked things, they would be infringing on the trademark, which is a serious offense.

Why Are Trademarks Necessary?

Trademarks protect the face of your company. They help you brand your business. Getting a trademark can help you, because it:

How Can You Get a Trademark?

Before getting a trademark, you should visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. Find out whether the words, slogan, or other thing that you want to trademark is already in fact trademarked by someone else. If not, make sure that the words you choose to trademark are strong, not confusing, and will easily translate to other languages if you want to break into a foreign market.

Next, hire an attorney. Although it’s not necessary, and there are plenty of resources to help you file on your own, it would be wise to hire a professional to help you with the legal side of the application process. You’ll need to fill out the initial application form and be prepared to handle any issues with the application. You’ll also need to pay to file the application. It can cost about $225-325 per class of goods or services.

What’s the Difference Between Registered and Unregistered Trademarks?

You don’t have to pay for a trademark. Anything that is considered your intellectual property can be protected by adding “TM” to the end of the words or design. However, an unregistered trademark will only give others notice of your rights. It won’t necessarily hold up in court, and you can’t protect your intellectual property against state lines.

A registered trademark will cost money, but it will be easy to enforce it. You can sue others who try to use your trademarked words or designs without your consent in any state. Not only will it be a great way to protect your intellectual property, but it can also help you create your brand and increase the value of your company.

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