When you are starting a business, it can be overwhelming trying to keep track of everything that you have to do to protect your business and operate legally. From incorporating and getting a business license to make the best tax election and properly protect your intellectual property, it can be hard to determine what is really necessary and prioritize your business’s most urgent needs. One thing that you have likely heard about is trademark protection. And you may wonder when is the best time to get a trademark? Do you need a trademark? Or do you really need copyrights? Do venture capital (VC) firms care about trademarks?
In this post, we will explore what a trademark is and whether you may benefit from having one. If you have specific questions about your brand or business it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney directly.
What is a Trademark?
A Trademark provides legal protection for anything that identifies your brand. This may be a word, name, or design, such as a logo. Anything that can be used to identify your brand to consumers can be protected by a trademark. Trademark law recognizes the importance of brand loyalty and the hard work that goes into building a brand. Many people and other companies can take advantage of the goodwill and brand recognition that you have built by copying or closely replicating their products, services, or advertising materials to look like yours, in hopes of tricking consumers. Trademark law exists to keep that from happening. It is important to note that trademarks do not apply to words, art, images, designs, or names that are not connected with a commercial brand. If you are looking to protect a visual or written work, you will benefit from copyright protection as opposed to trademark protection.
Do I Need a Trademark?
If you have a brand, it is generally advisable to have Trademark protection for it. This protection can apply to products, services, or even your logo. A great amount of time, money, and effort goes into building a brand, so it is fiscally responsible to invest in Trademark protection to ensure that your investment is secure and that other people cannot profit off of your hard work without consequence. If you have plans to start a business or launch a product but have not yet released it into the stream of commerce, you can file an Intent-to-Use Trademark Application which will give you a year from the date of the application to begin selling it. If you have no plans to build a brand or business you will not likely benefit from a trademark, however, there may be other forms of legal protection available that would benefit your venture. The best way to determine what legal protection you need to support your business is to consult with an attorney who can get a sense of what you are trying to accomplish overall and how intellectual property law can support your goals.
Contact the Carbon Law Group
If you have a small business, brand, or are launching a new product or service, it is important to protect your new venture. Intellectual property is the backbone of most businesses, and few people know where to start when it comes to protecting it. The experienced intellectual property attorneys at the Carbon Law Group are ready to help. Contact the Carbon Law Group today to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can support you and your business.
Judy Yen is an associate in Carbon Law Group’s Los Angeles office. She joined our firm in 2019 and her practice focuses on representing emerging companies in intellectual property and business transactional matters.
Born and raised in Taiwan, Judy is a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese. She has used her international legal experience, language, and bicultural skills to represent businesses and investors from the Greater China region in cross-border business expansion plans and execution in investing in the United States. Prior to joining Carbon Law Group, Judy worked for Paul Hastings LLP in their Shanghai office, where she gained valuable experience in international corporate law, including working on two IPO projects.
Judy is admitted to practice law in California. She graduated from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles in May 2019. In law school, Judy was a member of the Fashion Law Clinic, Transactional Negotiation Team and Entertainment Moot Court. She received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Accounting from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Judy grew up in a family of artists and entrepreneurs who had fostered her passion for art and business. She is an avid foodie who loves to both explore cool restaurants and try new recipes at home. She also likes oil painting, swimming, and hiking.