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Trademarking Tips: How to Ensure No One Steals Your Ideas

Picture this: you’re sitting at your desk tapping your fingers against a sheet of paper. An idea strikes and you hurriedly scribble down some notes about your innovate new product. You pass it over to your development team and they agree that it’s a revolutionary idea. They pass it to a design team, the schematic gets produced, the item is manufactured, and now you’re ready to sell a brand new product that your marketing team promises will turn heads and make you millions.

Sadly, two days after the initial release, a wave of imitations hits the market and your original design is improved upon, tweaked and modified to a point that your original product is left drowning in a sea of copycats. How could this happen? How could you forget the most crucial component of a new patent or design? Why did you neglect to protect your trademark?

Unless you have a legal team on hand such as Slater Heelis Solicitors, then you’re probably not getting the trademark advice that you need. Many businesses neglect to hire a legal team before it’s too late, and they could end up facing horrible consequences that might destroy their company. It’s worth the cost to invest in trademarking, and here are some tips to help prevent your next big product from being stolen.

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Can It Be Registered?

Keep in mind that not everything can be trademarked. It has to be distinct and not too general, it can’t be offensive, it can’t be confusing and you can’t trademark something functional. For example, it’s impossible to trademark the shape of a chocolate bar because the ridges are designed to help you break it up into smaller pieces. Likewise, you can’t copyright the shape of a cup because it’s too generic and functional.

Does it Already Exist?

If someone’s already beaten you to the punch then chances are you’re out of luck. Unless you fight to take over a trademark because it’s not being used, then you’ll have to go with a similar name or design. A lot of businesses tend to register trademarks several months or even years before the product is finished so that they can “reserve” the name.

Protecting Your Trademark

Once you’ve successfully registered a trademark, you have to make sure that you display it on all your branding and services with the “R” in a circle symbol. Ask your marketing department to notify your legal department of any unauthorised use online or on physical products. Imitators will regularly try to modify your design to not be suspicious, but you can build a case against similar marks—they don’t have to be identical.

Address Consumers

Make sure you notify consumers about copycat products, fakes and low-quality imitations. It helps if you set up a web page that outlines the differences between your genuine product and fakes. If you see negative reviews of your product or business due to imitators, then link them to the web page that shows the differences in products and notify them that they have purchased a fake. Ask your marketing department to keep in touch with vendors that are unwillingly selling imitations of your product and ask them to provide information on sellers so your legal team can chase them down.

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