The myth that if you have a business name or company name or domain name you are safe, Is absolutely wrong, let me tell you a story. A client walks into my office and goes “I’ve got this stupid letter of demand but you know what? I’ve been using this business name for 15 years so they can’t touch me.” So do some searches and say to the client “you are correct you’ve got a business name registered, you’ve got a company name registered, you’ve got a domain name registered but you don’t have a trademark registered,” and she went “ah never bother with that.”
I was left shocked, because a trademark is your superpower and you haven’t got your superpower protected. So I had to break it to her that without the trademark being registered, she was defenseless. Even though she had used her brand name for 15 years, this up starter had registered the trademark and was in a stronger position than my client. So my client had three options:
- Option one, she could try and buy the trademark from the up start, and some businesses actually make money this way, they will register your business name as a trademark and then sell it back to you for $20,000.That wasn’t really an option for my client in this situation because the new person actually was trading under that name and using it as a trademark.
- The second option that my client had was we could take it to court, we would have won and we would have gotten the other trademark removed because of my client’s extensive use, but that was going to be very expensive. I estimated maybe $100,000, being a small family-owned business she did not have money to throw away.
- The third option was the option of changing her business name, changing her company name and getting a new name, securing the trademark and starting with a new brand, which was not quite an option for her because she had been using it for so long and she was well known.
In the end, she decided to do option 3 but even that wasn’t cheap. It cost about $35,000, of which about $15,000 was spent on the legal fees to settle that case, to make sure she didn’t have to pay damages for using an unregistered trademark that didn’t belong to her. She secured a new name, and then a trademark. She had to go and rebrand and because she had vehicles, uniforms, and signage with the branding on it. all of that was the remaining $20,000 of the cost.
In the end, it turned out to be a very expensive exercise. So, the myth that we have busted today, is the mere fact that you’ve got a business, domain or company name registered, does not protect you. The trademark is the superpower, that’s the one you need to have registered. In that particular client’s case, one of the saddest aspects of it, was that because she had to change her domain name, her regular clients couldn’t find her. Sometimes they would only need her services once every few years. What happened was she actually lost about 80% of the income over the next was six nine months, while she was trying to re-establish the new brand, and had to contact all of her existing clients or former clients in case they needed her services.
So, the trademark is your superpower, if you want to know anything about trademarks, message me or email me, you’ll find my contacts on Facebook, or go to ‘legallioness.com’ and send me a message. It has been awesome busting legal myths with you, so that your business can have the protection that it deserves. My name is Cathryn Warburton,I am The Legal Lioness, if you want to hear more about legal myths visit my website ‘legallioness.com’.