How to protect brand when trademark takes a year?

Navigating the intricate labyrinth of brand protection can be a daunting task, especially when the wheels of trademark registration turn at a seemingly glacial pace.

The journey from filing a trademark application to the jubilant moment of obtaining the registration certificate often stretches across months, if not a full year.

During this liminal period, your brand name—a precious intangible asset—exists in a vulnerable state, open to potential infringement and misuse.

So, how do you protect the sanctity of your brand when the trademark is yet to be etched into the legal annals?

In this blog, we’ll delve into the proactive strategies and defensive maneuvers you can employ to shield your brand during this interim phase.

Protecting a Brand from Copyright Infringement

Protecting a brand from copyright infringement is essential for maintaining its integrity, reputation, and value.

Copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship, such as literary, dramatic, musical, and certain other intellectual works.

When it comes to brands, copyright protection can apply to original creative aspects like advertising copy, website content, graphic designs, and more. Here’s how to protect your brand from copyright infringement:

  1. Understand What Can Be Copyrighted:
    • Not everything associated with a brand can be copyrighted. Familiarise yourself with what elements of your brand can be protected under copyright law, such as original text, graphics, music, and videos.
  2. Ensure Originality:
    • To be eligible for copyright protection, your work must be original and possess a minimal degree of creativity. Make sure your brand’s content and creative elements are unique and not copied from others.
  3. Register Your Copyrights:
    • While copyright protection is automatic upon creation of the work, registering your copyrights with the relevant government body offers stronger legal protection and the ability to seek statutory damages and attorney fees in the case of infringement.
  4. Use Copyright Notices:
    • Clearly display copyright notices on your brand’s material. This acts as a first line of defense by informing others that the work is protected, and it can deter potential infringers.
  5. Monitor and Enforce Your Rights:
    • Keep an eye on the market and the internet for any unauthorised use of your copyrighted materials. Use tools and services that can help you monitor for potential infringements.
  6. Take Action Against Infringement:
    • If you discover infringement, address it promptly. Start with a cease-and-desist letter to the infringer. If they don’t comply, you may need to pursue legal action to enforce your rights.
  7. Use Copyright Management and Licensing:
    • If you allow others to use your copyrighted material, manage it through clear licensing agreements that outline how the material can be used, thus preventing misuse.
  8. Educate Your Team:
    • Make sure your employees understand copyright laws and the importance of respecting other creators’ rights, as well as protecting your own copyrighted material.
  9. Maintain Records:
    • Keep detailed records of the creation process of your copyrighted works, including drafts and dates. This can be crucial evidence if you ever need to prove originality and ownership.
  10. Stay Informed:
  • Copyright laws can change, and it’s important to stay informed about these changes to ensure ongoing compliance and protection for your brand.
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Read More: Trademark vs Copyright vs Patent

How to Protect  Brand When Trademark Takes a Year?

Protecting your brand is a crucial aspect of business strategy, particularly during the often lengthy trademark registration process.

While obtaining a trademark can sometimes take a year or longer, there are effective steps you can take to safeguard your brand during this interim period. Here’s a guide to help you navigate through this:

  1. Use the “TM” Symbol:
    • Even before your trademark is officially registered, you can use the “TM” (trademark) symbol next to your brand name to indicate that you claim it as a trademark.
    • This can deter potential infringers and assert your intention to protect your brand.
  2. Document Your Usage:
    • Keep meticulous records of your brand’s use in commerce, including dates, locations, and the nature of the usage.
    • This documentation can support your claim of priority in case of a dispute with another party.
  3. Common Law Rights:
    • In many jurisdictions, you have common law trademark rights simply by using your brand in commerce. These rights can be enforced against others who may try to use a confusingly similar brand in your market area.
  4. Monitor the Market:
    • Stay vigilant about potential infringements by regularly searching for similar trademarks, especially in your industry. There are various monitoring services that can assist with this.
  5. Domain Name Registration:
    • Secure the corresponding domain names for your brand as soon as possible. This prevents others from registering them and using them against your brand’s interests.
  6. Cease-and-Desist Letters:
    • If you find someone using a brand name that’s confusingly similar to yours, sending a cease-and-desist letter can be an effective first step. It shows the infringer that you are serious about protecting your brand.
  7. Social Media Presence:
    • Establish and maintain a strong presence on social media platforms. This not only strengthens your brand’s visibility but also establishes a timestamp of your brand’s active usage and presence in the market.
  8. Seek Legal Advice:
    • Consult with an intellectual property attorney for strategic advice tailored to your brand and circumstances.
    • They can guide you through the steps of protecting your brand while waiting for the trademark registration.
  9. Prepare for Enforcement:
    • Be ready to enforce your rights if necessary. Understand the legal avenues available to you, including the potential for litigation, and have a plan in place.
  10. Reserve Your Trademark Internationally:
  • If you plan to do business internationally, consider filing an international application through systems like the Madrid Protocol to reserve your trademark in multiple jurisdictions.
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In conclusion, the journey towards securing a trademark might be a marathon rather than a sprint, but it does not leave your brand defenseless in the interim.

Employing a blend of vigilance, assertiveness, and strategic action can effectively shield your brand during this vulnerable phase.

From using the “TM” symbol and documenting your brand’s usage to monitoring the market and enforcing common law rights, there are multiple layers of protection you can activate.

While the trademark registration process works its course, remember that the integrity and distinctiveness of your brand are not on hold.

Establishing a strong online presence, securing domain names, and preparing for potential enforcement are proactive steps that contribute to the fortification of your brand.

By understanding and utilising these strategies, you can navigate the waiting period with confidence, ensuring that your brand continues to thrive and remain protected from potential infringement.

The year-long wait for a trademark can indeed be a period of strategic brand strengthening, laying a robust foundation for the moment your trademark is officially registered and recognised.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do to protect my brand while waiting for trademark registration?

You can start by using the “TM” symbol next to your brand name, which signals your claim of trademark.

It’s also important to monitor the market for any potential infringements, document your brand’s usage in commerce, secure corresponding domain names, and maintain a strong online and social media presence.

Can I stop others from using my brand name before my trademark is registered?

Yes, you may have common law rights by virtue of using your brand in commerce. You can send a cease-and-desist letter to infringers.

If that doesn’t work, you may have grounds for a lawsuit under unfair competition laws.

Does the “TM” symbol provide legal protection?

The “TM” symbol itself doesn’t provide legal protection. However, it indicates that you claim the mark as a trademark, which can deter potential infringers and serves as a public notice of your trademark claim.

Should I register my brand name as a domain name while waiting for trademark registration?

Yes, securing the corresponding domain names for your brand is a crucial step in protecting your online brand identity and preventing cybersquatting.

What if someone registers a similar trademark while I’m waiting for my registration to be completed?

f you’ve been using your brand in commerce, you may have common law rights that predate the other party’s registration.

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You could potentially challenge their trademark based on your prior use. It’s advisable to consult with an intellectual property attorney to explore your options.