You’ve found the perfect name for your future company, but you’re still months away from launching. Can you protect your brand name from the competition while you get the rest of your business together?
Yes, you can. Thanks to the intent to use trademark application. Trademark laws are no joke, so don’t let your competition intrude on your brand before you can get rolling.
There are several advantages to intent to use trademark applications. This guide shows everything you need to know about protecting your brilliant new idea.
Intent to Use: What You Need to Know
By any measure, one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you’re starting a business is not getting the proper legal protection for your brand. Amidst all the excitement and anticipation of launching, you may overlook the importance of intellectual property.
Many new business owners are under the assumption that they can’t file for a trademark because they haven’t started selling their products just yet. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Benefits of a Trademark
The two most common types of trademark applications are actual use and intent to use. It’s important to understand these two intellectual property categories as you’re developing your business brand identity.
If you happen to already be in business, the intent to use application will not serve you. Instead, you’ll want the actual use trademark application. The actual use application requires that you already be in business, but it will protect your name as long as it is unique within its category and does not infringe on another existing trademark.
There are some names that you don’t want to tread on. Names like Nike, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola are brandable names that are so well-established and carry such dominance in the market that no one would ever think to use them.
However, other names, mainly generic names, give you some room to work with. For example, the name “Dove” exists as a type of soap, as well as chocolate. There are countless examples of this, but the point is as long as you are the only player in your specific field with your name, you will likely see success with your trademark application.
If, however, someone else in your field already has that name (more importantly, has the trademark), you might be out of luck. So, make sure to do your due diligence, especially if you are thinking of going national. The last thing you want is to spend a ton of money and resources on a brand name, then have to change all of it because someone already had the trademark.
Why is this important? Because it will help you understand the most significant benefit of the intent to use the trademark.
The Power of the Intent to Use Trademark
You see, the power behind the intent to use trademark application process is that it lets you secure your trademark before you even go into business.
However, the main stipulation is that you have just six months to start offering the goods or services associated with the name. So, you can’t go filing an intent to use trademark on any name, willy-nilly. You need to demonstrate genuine “intent to use” the name.
You can reapply for five additional six month periods, according to the USPTO, for a total of three years’ worth of trademark protection. Each intent to use trademark timeline is six months. Keep in mind that each additional six months requires filing fees, which can add up.
An intent to use trademark can grant you the right to use that name starting from the date you filed for it. This earlier filing date, known as “constructive use,” can be the secret weapon that beats your competition to the punch.
The head start that an intent to use trademark gives you can be the ace up your sleeve, especially if you have a valuable name that clearly defines your industry, and if the competition in your field is fierce.
If you still don’t believe in the importance of intent to use trademark applications, take the example of the dueling “Blown Away” hair salons, a case from 2011. Even though one salon was in Texas and the other was in Minnesota, the Texas salon had filed the intent to use trademark a mere two days before the Minnesota salon.
The Texas salon had served just four clients that first week in business, but guess who got to keep the name in the end? That’s right, the Texas salon because the owners had the earlier filing date on their intent to use trademark.
The Limitations of Intent to Use Trademarks
While there are many benefits of the intent to use a trademark, it does have a couple of limitations.
Primarily, it’s essential to understand that the intent to use trademark depends on you eventually doing business. The six-month timeframes eventually run out, so be ready to prove that you are making earnest efforts to use the name legitimately in the future.
Secondly, the fees do add up. Between initial application fees, grace period fees, and renewal fees, you’re looking at several hundred dollars for a single trademark.
Free Resources on Trademark Applications
Want to know how to apply for a trademark? You can always use the USPTO, but if you want additional help with the proper steps to take, that’s what we’re here for.
At Patent Hacks, we pride ourselves on supporting the innovation community through our array of intellectual property resources. From the trademark application process to understanding how long to get a trademark, we can help you navigate the process so you can bring your idea to life.
The intent to use trademark can buy you precious time, protecting your business identity while your company builds itself up. Trademarks are a public notice to competitors that you have solidified the rights to your brand. It can act as the footing your company needs to establish itself in its industry.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to us.