Earlier this year, Microsoft was on the wrong end of an English court ruling that found the software giant had infringed on the trademark of British broadcasting company BSkyB with its SkyDrive cloud storage service. Instead of appealing the ruling, Microsoft decided to rebrand the service.
Before your company has a misstep with intellectual property litigation, consider these tips for developing and protecting a brand:
Make it unique. While it’s tempting to choose a common name, these choices are often difficult to protect.
Conduct a thorough search. Search on the Internet to see if the name you are contemplating already exists. Go past the first page or two of search results – take the time to scour them all before you proceed. In addition, be sure you conduct a trademark search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website for the intended name as well as variations on that name.
Register the name. As soon as you have cleared your name, register your trademarks quickly. Be sure the name is registered in all the classes that pertain to your business. You will need the assistance of a business attorney to do this properly.
Protect the brand. Set up a Google Alert on each of your trademarks so you will know if someone else is using your brand name. If you discover that someone has appropriated your brand name or a similar version, have a cease-and-desist letter sent immediately.