PENNY WISE AND POUND FOOLISH

DO IT YOURSELF TRADEMARKS -- NOT SO SMART

You have a toothache.  Do you pull the tooth yourself and save the couple of hundred bucks a dentist might charge?  Hopefully not.  Hopefully you see a dentist.

Your Dog is sick.  Do you, to save a few bucks, go online and take a quick dog care course and then treat the dog yourself? Hopefully not. Hopefully, for your dog’s sake, you bring her to the vet.

You need a logo for your company.  Do you take a quick graphic arts course online then design something yourself? Hopefully not.  Hopefully you hire a graphic artist.

Which brings me to the point. You want to establish a trademark for your business.  Do you spend about an hour reading about trademarks online, then go the USPTO and apply to register your dream trademark?  Hopefully not.

Adopting and using a trademark without consulting with a lawyer is fraught with hidden dangers for your business. You could unknowingly pour thousands of dollars into promoting a “trademark” that is unprotectable, or worse yet, already owned by another party. You could expose yourself to an increased risk of litigation. And perhaps worst of all, you could set in motion a chain of events that leads, in a few years, to your having to start the process all over again building your brand under a completely different trademark, after biting the bullet and hiring an attorney to get you out of the mess that resulted from your use of an improperly vetted mark.

It is true that the USPTO has a very nice website where anyone can file an application to register a trademark.  But if you don’t know what you are doing it’s like performing surgery without having been trained as a surgeon.  Someone might give you a very nice scalpel – but do you know how to use it? (OK – performing surgery without knowing what you’re doing is worse – because people could die.  But adopting and using and applying for trademarks without knowing what you’re doing can potentially kill your business).

I have been called so many times by people who blindly adopted and applied to register trademarks without much – or in some cases – any knowledge about trademark law.  They get themselves into a mess and call me for help cleaning it up.  How much better would it have been if they had consulted with me – or any experienced trademark attorney – at the outset? They could have avoided the entire mess, and in the end, saved a bundle of money.

The moral of the story is that as a business owner or entrepreneur, you should take advantage of the fact that there are legal professionals available who have gone to school, learned about the law, practiced in the field of trademark law, and know the ins and outs of it.  We are here to help you.  Don’t fail to take advantage of this available help.  Adopting, using and applying to register trademarks without consulting with a trademark lawyer is like shooting yourself in the foot.  So don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.