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How To Trademark A Clothing Brand Name

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How To Trademark A Clothing Brand Name

How To Trademark A Clothing Brand Name

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All About Trademark Class 25: Clothing, Footwear And Headgear

Learning the legalities of running a business means familiarizing yourself with a lot of rules, practices and terminology that can be a little confusing.

Today, we’re going to focus on a legal topic that affects many business owners: trademarks. What is a trademark, what parts of your business can you trademark and when should you consider registering a trademark to protect your business?

We spoke with Christina Scalera, legal expert and founder of The Contract Shop, which sells contract templates for creatives and entrepreneurs. His experience extends beyond growing his own brand and working with clients to build and protect their brands.

A trademark is a source identifier. Any product or brand that identifies it as distinct from other products on the market can be considered a source identifier. It may include a unique combination of letters, words, symbols or designs.

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One thing Christina made clear is that while you can trademark names, they’re not just descriptive. As an example, he says, consider Key Smart® key fobs.

“You couldn’t just register a ‘key fob,’ but Key Smart Inc. registered the trademark for ‘Key Smart.’ So when they talk about their product, it’s Key Smart® key fobs,” he said. Johnson & Johnson is another example. “They sell Band-Aid® bandages. The source identifier is always a trademark, and may be followed by the category or generic product name. Band-Aid® is the trademark, the bandage is the product.”

Which part of a product name you can trademark applies to the name of anything your business sells, including digital products and services. Trademarks for services are often called service marks.

How To Trademark A Clothing Brand Name

“For my course, I can’t register ‘Wedding Photographer Contracts’ because it’s purely descriptive, but I can register Legalize Your Biz™, a legal course for online entrepreneurs,” says Christina. “It’s a good trademark because it’s a unique phrase, and it’s not.”

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It’s also important to remember that trademarks and domain names are different. With domain names, you can register it once and it’s all yours. Trademarks need to be used and actively protected. “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” says Christina.

As soon as you start a small business or develop a product, you probably have some source identifiers, including your business name and logo. The question is, do you need to worry about trademarks now?

There are two ways to get a trademark, and one is more formal (and involved) than the other. You can get a trademark informally by doing business using a name or logo, and establish your reputation and mark it as such (this is often called an unregistered or common law trademark).

This provides some legal protection when you’re just starting out, but Christina recommends that you consider registering a trademark as your business gains traction.

How To Trademark A Clothing Label

You can do some of this work yourself by following the tips we’ve outlined below. However, to get a definitive answer about your ability to use a particular trademark, it is always best to consult a trademark attorney.

First, when you have a unique idea for your brand or product name, it’s a good time to see if they’re already registered as part of your competitive analysis. You can do this by searching for your potential trademark using online databases maintained by the governments of the countries in which you do business, so start in your own country.

Here is a short list of databases you may want to check, and remember to check the database for each country you do business in:

How To Trademark A Clothing Brand Name

“When searching for your trademarked term, use quotation marks for an exact match, and search all terms of the phrase if there is more than one,” says Christina. Quotation marks will ensure that you get the exact matches for your search, so that you don’t wander through largely unrelated results.

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Even if results show up for your chosen trademark terms, that doesn’t mean they’re off the table. In the US, trademarks are based on use, so if it’s not in use – even if it’s registered – you may be able to challenge the registration with the help of a trademark attorney and claim the name for your business.

Christina recommends further research when you find results for a term you want to trademark. For example, someone may have registered a trademark but since gone out of business, and based on US trademark use, this may indicate that the trademark is available.

If you see that it’s a word, phrase or name that no one is using, that’s a great sign that it might be available and you’re ready to take the next step to register your trademark.

After you’ve searched through the databases, Christina recommends Google as the next step “Go to Google and run the exact same search to see what comes up,” he said. “If you find results in the trademark database, you know you’re going to get hits on Google, but you want to see how many there are and how active. Ideally, even if you get a few results, you want to see if there’s any activity on those sites.”

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Finally, be sure to search social media to see if there’s any activity using the trademark you’re considering – tools like Namechk can surface social profiles using your desired name. If you can’t find anything recent, that’s another good sign.

“If you see that it’s a word, phrase or name that no one is using, that’s a great sign that it might be available and you’re ready to take the next step to sign up your trademark,” says Christina.

If you decide you’re ready to officially register a trademark, Christina recommends contacting someone who can provide legal advice specific to your business. Consider working with them to more thoroughly explore what else is out there before investing the time and resources to apply for trademark registration.

How To Trademark A Clothing Brand Name

“Only a licensed attorney will be able to give you specific advice and say, ‘Yes, go out there and use your trademark, and let’s register it,'” says Christina. The process of registering your mark can also be quite technical and involved, so it qualifies as something that is much better outsourced to an expert.

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Note that the trademark registration application process will vary from country to country. Consult a professional who understands the needs of your specific region.

Ensuring trademark safety means you must consistently use appropriate trademark indicators and act when you see someone infringing your mark.

You’ve probably seen them around, but these trademark symbols are easy to ignore unless you want to use them for yourself Christina shares a breakdown of what each one means and when to use it:

Protecting your trademarks goes beyond identifying them properly You should also be careful not to copy or use your trade mark or use similar marks in your industry – in trade mark law, failure to take steps to protect your mark can result in dilution of your trademark due to an idea.

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“If someone comes up with a product or brand using a registered mark you own, or something similar and identical in your industry, it’s an important time to talk to an attorney,” says Christina. “For my clients, I always contact other businesses to tell them that this is a registered mark, and they can’t use it, because it diminishes the value of my client’s trademark.”

Protecting your trademark is a big deal, and it really annoys me when people don’t act on infringement. By not taking action you really risk missing your mark.

Losing your trademark occurs when you can no longer claim that the original mark, whether it’s your logo or product name, is a source identifier. The reason is that if everyone in the industry uses the same name, it no longer identifies something that is unique to you. After all the work and money involved in obtaining a trademark, taking action against infringement is essential to protecting your mark and your investment.

How To Trademark A Clothing Brand Name

“Protecting your trademark is a big deal, and it really bothers me when people don’t act on infringement,” says Christina. “You really risk missing your mark by not taking action. I always ask, ‘How much did it cost you, because I’m sure it wasn’t cheap.’ It’s the equivalent of buying a first-class plane ticket and then not showing up for your flight.”

How To Trademark A Clothing Brand

💡 Note: Protecting your trademark is best left to the professionals, especially when it comes to fighting a pending trademark application. to notice

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