When exactly is the right time to register a trademark? Should you bother doing it before launching your products and services or better wait until your brand establishes itself in the marketplace? In this article, we would like to offer some recommendations on the process of trademark registration to ensure the highest level of brand protection.
Register before somebody else does
The early bird catches the worm, and the first to register a trademark gets to keep it. Having a registered trademark from the very start will help you to avoid multiple potential issues your business might face when it comes to legal disputes over trademark ownership. Trademark laws work in favour of those who registered their brands according to official IPO requirements and grant protection even while the trademark application is still pending. The validity of a registered trademark is dated back to the day the application was submitted, meaning it will always be prioritized for any subsequent applications. Moreover, the owner of a registered trademark has the right to issue “cease and desist” letters, discouraging copycats from taking advantage of the brand’s reputation by forcing them to either change some of the names or completely rebrand their products and services.
The time of trademark registration is especially relevant for those who are ready to expand their business and start offering their goods and services globally. One of the biggest issues business owners face when expanding their business internationally is “brand squatting”, somebody else registering a brand owner’s trademark first in another country to later sell it for profit or to leverage the brand’s success. In order to prevent this from happening it is best not to delay filing trademark registrations abroad, particularly in countries where you intend to launch a product or service in the near future.
Some things to consider
While it is generally advisable to register a trademark as soon as possible, the process will differ slightly for businesses that are already offering their products and services on the market and those who are yet to start doing so.
If the business is set to go but is not quite ready to put goods and services on the market, the best decision would be to file the intent-to-use trademark application (ITU application). As the name suggests, ITU allows an applicant to register a trademark before use in commerce. Once an applicant starts using a registered trademark in connection with selling relevant goods and services, they will need to submit confirmation of this trademark usage with a Statement of Use.
Ultimately, the optimal trademark strategy really depends on each client’s inclination to risk aversion, availability of financial resources, and business ambitions. While it may be unnecessary for a local barbershop to register its trademark on a global scale, a different approach is advisable for a software company with an international presence.
Register trademarks quick and smart
The sooner the better principle of trademark registration doesn’t mean rushing the process. Every business thinking about registering a trademark should go through all appropriate preparation steps such as conducting a prior search for similar trademarks, learning more about trademark classes for goods and services, and consulting with legal professionals for additional support. You can learn more about the process of trademark registration by reading our article Common Mistakes to Avoid When Registering a Trademark, or by going through Trama Academy.