What is Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset?
If you said something other than your company’s name, you might want to think again. Your company’s name, or trademark, is your interface with your customers. It is how you differentiate the quality of your goods and services from those of substandard competitors. Your name embodies all of the goodwill you have developed with your customers over the years. It is a promise to the customer of quality and value. Without a name, you company simply could not compete.
What is Your Trademark Worth?
Smart companies know the value of their trademarks. For companies like Coca-Cola and IBM, the value of their trademarks are measured in the tens of billions of dollars. For your company, it is measured in the value of your company above its tangible assets. The value of your trademark lies in your customer and vendor relationships, your credit history, your employees, the cost of putting it all together and ironing out the wrinkles. It is easy to see how the value of your company’s trademark can easily exceed the collective value of all of your company’s tangible assets combined.
Leaving Your Front Door Unlocked
You would never leave your company’s front door unlocked overnight. You would never trust a stranger to deliver your bank deposits. But that is what companies do when they fail to take the simple steps necessary to protect their most valuable assets. Many companies elect to stick their heads in the sand and wait until a problem arises. The problem is, by the time trademark problems arise, they have often snowballed to an unmanageable size.
The Ugly Side of Flying Blind
By the time your company receives a trademark cease and desist letter or has its trademark stolen, it may be too late. The problem could be so severe, you may have to forget about saving your trademark and focus all of your resources on just saving your company from bankruptcy. If you picked your company’s name without a trademark search, you may be infringing someone else’s trademark, without even knowing it. All the money your company has earned under that trademark may have to be turned over to the owner of the trademark. If you continue to infringe a registered trademark after you become aware of a potential problem, you may have to pay the trademark owner triple damages plus all of the trademark owner’s attorney fees.
It Is Just As Easy to Do Things Right
Checking out the name of your company and/or the names of any new products is a relatively quick and painless process. Once you have vetted the name, you may wish to file for federal trademark registration. Unlike state registration, federal trademark registration affords national protection, triple damages, and attorney fees, as well as several other legal advantages. Probably the biggest advantage federal trademark registration provides is the increased likelihood that an infringer will back down, rather than force you into a lawsuit. Trademark attorneys typically provide a free initial consultation to explain their trademark vetting and protection services, along with the associated fees. Trademarks are your company’s most valuable asset. The sooner you protect them, the less likely you are to experience a catastrophic problem down the road.