I am currently in the process of registering my March 4ward trademark. I have been meaning to do so for a year now, but just never got around to it. To be honest, I did go to the USPTO Trademark Information Page to do research about it but I got overwhelmed at the thought of it all and closed the tab. It’s not that the website was confusing, it just seemed like a lot of work. I mean search a database for my logo image?! Ugh.
I convinced myself that my current brand presence did not warrant to be trademarked. I let laziness and procrastination take hold of me and put it off. Flash forward to today and again I’m reminded by a friend that my logo and name should be trademark. It’s time I take heed so I finally started the education process with the help of one of my best friends, Cathy, who is familiar with the legal system. Cathy reports it’s not that bad. I just have to read and follow instructions. 🙂 One of the important things to consider is hiring an attorney. Yea, I know my first thought is…”I don’t have the extra budget for that as a small business owner/entrepreneur!”
Well, GOOD NEWS! According to the USPTO, there are some attorneys that may do it free for those of us on tight budgets. I have to find a kind attorney in San Diego to give this minority, women-owned business owner some pro bono services. 🙂 I’m confident I’ll find one that respects my March 4ward journey to date and will want me to continue it. It’s the optimist in me.
Okay, so that’s it right?! Um, no. There’s a big thing called “trade name” small business owners should register too.
“…a trademark is completely different than a trade name, and your small business needs both.” – Kelly Keller, Small Biz Trends
According to Kelly Keller’s article, The Biggest Branding Mistake Small Businesses Make, small business owners need to register their trade name. What’s the difference between a trade mark and a trade name? Well, in a nutshell, the former is more to do with a business’ rights to sell its branded products and services, while the latter is about a business’ rights to operate within a particular state. The Small Business Association provides some information on choosing and registering your business name in your operating state here.
In Kelly Keller’s article she reinforces a small businesses owner’s responsibility to understand the differences between the two but also stresses the need to register both:
“The onus is on you, the business owner, to make sure that your trade name isn’t conflicting with any existing trademarks. This is a critical step in building a business and a brand that so many small businesses skip, and the risk is huge. Often, a trademark infringement can be so expensive to recover from that small businesses have to close their doors, but it’s something that never has to happen.” – Kelly Keller, Small Biz Trends
I said I made 1.5 branding mistakes in my post title because I did register my March 4ward trade name in the state of Georgia from 2013-2014. Unfortunately, I missed the renewal period during my transition back to California at the end of last year thus I’m operating as a virtual freelancer/contractor – 1099.
I would like to get my official business license and accounts set up again to keep business affairs separate from personal ones but I have to decide if I want to continue primary operations out of Georgia or register in California. That’s another research topic to research. What are the pros and cons of operating one’s business in one state over another? Ay!
Yup, lots to do as a business owner that are often neglected or put off, when not in our areas of expertise. However, if you are truly committed to building a brand legacy and/or business, then you have to MIND YOUR BUSINESS.
Ah, the irony. I recently posted this image on Instagram to remind others on make sure they focus on their business. As always, my posts are a reflection of my life and what I am doing or should be doing. LOL.
Anywho…get to registering people!
You may just be the next BIG BRAND and yet it would be an epic fail if you legally could not say so or profit from it.