In order to preserve corporate identity and unique brand, executive leaders should consider filing for trademark protection with the United States Patent and Trademark Office as soon as possible.
Not only should entrepreneurs recognize the importance of preserving unique brand identity, but filing for trademark protection represents the first step to creating a barrier to entry for potential competitors.
Trademarks must be filed at the U.S Trademark and Patent Office, and typically take 6-9 months to fully process. There are varying levels of trademark protection so be sure to investigate. Everything you need to know is on the USTPO website.
The costs for trademark protection can vary between $500 and $2000. Part of the costs include not only the filing fee, but also fees for each Class of Goods a trademark is registered under.
Discover more about Trademarks in Filing For Trademark Protection.
In addition to filing for trademark protection, entrepreneurs should consider the possible necessity of registering products, or in the case of software, features of products for patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Patents can offer companies the legal right to prevent new entrants from entering their market and duplicating the product and services they offer.
Patents are by far the most difficult protection to obtain, and with good reason;
Many, many individuals and companies want to patent their creations to avoid being copied, and file for patent protection.
It takes a long time for the USTPO to verify that an invention is indeed patentable and not infringing on previous patents.
Costs can vary greatly, and in the tens of thousands, so consult a patent attorney before exploring whether or not you need patent protection.
Management teams should make make the following considerations which determining whether to file for patent protection:
It can take up to 10 years to receive patent protection.
Most investors will not value patents separately unless they are granted.
The costs associated with patents can be burdensome, filing for a provisional patent is a lower cost approach to eventually filing for full patent protection.
Focusing too much on patent opportunities can be economically burdensome for young companies & send the wrong signal to potential 3rd parties and investors.
Because of the complexity and costs associate with filing for patent protections, entrepreneurs should always start with trademark and copyright filings.
The great thing about copyrights is that any work is protected under copyright law the moment it is created and fixed into a tangible form that is directly perceptible.
This definition can vary from a drawing or writing on a piece of paper to online text. There is no need to file for copyrights, it is a protection automatically granted.
What individuals and companies often do is display the text "COPYRIGHT" and the date of the year somewhere on the material that they want to protect.
Discover more about copyrights in Copyright Protection.
In each case, the protection of Trademarks, Patents, and Copyrights offer varying degrees of legal protection from theft and copying, so be sure to take the time to consider which protections are appropriate for your specific business purposes.
And, if all 3 protections will be required for your business, develop a time-line indicating the appropriate time to apply for each protection that corresponds to the growth stage of your businesses.
For more information on Trademarks, Patents and Copyrights visit: http://www.uspto.gov
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