As an art school graduate turned business owner, there was a LOT to figure out when I started down the path of entrepreneurship. I can saw, solder, set stones, cast metal, enamel, draw, paint, develop film, and use graphic design software. But tasks like managing payroll, reporting sales tax, developing a website, accounting, digitally marketing, drafting legal documents for vendors, inventorying product, and protecting my brand were all things that I had to learn along the way. Fortunately, there is this great resource called The Internet (books and podcasts played a role too!). AND I have amazing friends and family with training & experience in business management to reach out to for advice.
I launched my business in the Summer of 2014, and I scoured the internet and the US Patent & Trademark office for any similar business names & logos while brainstorming my branding. I was thrilled that my chosen brand name didn't appear to be taken, but was told time and time again by friends in business that I needed to trademark the logo after finalizing it.
My journey to trademarking proved to be a long and educational one, but I am SO thrilled to announce that as of January 17, 2017- Sea+Stone® is a nationally registered trademark! So other than getting to include a snazzy circle-R by our name, what does this mean?
Here are 7 reasons I decided to trademark my brand name:
- By obtaining a federal trademark, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am not accidentally infringing on someone else mark. Developing a logo, printing it on packaging, and building a trusted brand image takes time (and money!). It would be a shame to discover that someone else owns the rights to your mark and have to revise branding after investing so much into it!
- My state trademarks in Florida & South Carolina only protected my mark in those two states. By pursuing a federal trademark, I can now take comfort in knowing that my mark is protected in all 50 states.
- It helps prevent future brand confusion and infringement. Our brand name is now listed in the USPTO database and anyone picking out a new business name can see that ours is taken. Having the mark officially registered also means that we can increase the types of damages we seek if someone infringes, which is a great deterrent for anyone seeking to use the same mark.
- Trademarks are forever. A trademark has to be renewed every 10 years, but can be renewed indefinitely.
- It builds trust and conveys seriousness with customers, vendors, and potential employees.
- If a business grows to be tremendously successful, a trademark can be a property asset (can be bought or sold).
- It gives you the streamlined ability to secure domain names and user names on social media channels (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc).
If any of my other small-business friends are reading this and want to pursue a trademark, please let me know! My hunt for the perfect attorney was full of trial and error. The first attorney I hired did not have expertise in trademarking and I paid him WAY too much to simply acquaint himself with the process and law. The process can be reasonably priced for even a small business if you find an attorney who works almost exclusively in intellectual property. Some small businesses seek trademark registration without an attorney, and I would not suggest that. Paying an attorney to fix and refile an application that was started independently can cost way more than the legal fees to have them do it all. I'm more than happy to provide contact information for the attorney I used if anyone is interested in registering their mark.