Many small business owners today start their venture by building a Facebook page. Until they realized that they are infringing on someone else’s intellectual property.
We begin with a typical story of a small business entrepreneur who started his business using a Facebook page. Let’s say he sells handmade jewelry and other handicrafts.
Business has been going well, although his first customers are referrals from friends, word of mouth spreads and soon customers begin to message him for orders. He sets up a web site and sales more than triple. All is happy and well for his first three years in business. Then one day, Facebook tells him they will shut down his Page because the brand name he uses is infringing on someone else’s trademark.
Apparently, someone had trademarked a similar name to the one he was using for so long. And being new to business, he never thought to trademark his business name.
He consults a trademark lawyer. He finds out that if he decides to counter the case, he faces years of litigation and the uncertainty that the court might still not give him the rights to the trademark. More than time, he has to spend money on legal fees. Hence they came up with the difficult decision that fighting is not worth the effort. It would be easier and cost effective to re-brand.
How to protect your trademark
A trademark is something that identifies your product or service to the consumer. It is based on registration and not usage. Once you successfully register your trademark:
- You can use the Ⓡ symbol to show that it is registered
- You can immediately prevent third parties from registering the same or similar marks for use in connection with the goods or services.
- Since it can be recorded with the customs, you can prevent the importation of counterfeit products.
- Some online platforms will only take action on trademark infringement if you can provide evidence that you own it, such as trademark registration.
Seeing from the example above, if our friend had registered his trademark early on, he wouldn’t have to spend resources on re-branding and risk losing connections with all his old customers.
Having a trademark registration prevents other confusingly similar trademarks from being registered. You have this right in the countries where your trademark is registered.
How much does it cost to trademark your business?
It can vary widely. Hiring a lawyer costs legal fees. If you choose to file the document on your own, you only have to pay for search and filing fees. But it will cost you your time. The Trademark Protection Office has may ins and outs of trademark registration, and those who chose to do it face a learning curve and spend a lot of time going back and forth.
You will have additional fees too depending on how many classes/ products you are registering. You can read the trademark classes here.
Protect your business
Do not learn the hard way. If you have spent a lot of time and money creating the perfect logo and name, take the time to register them as your trademarks.
Once its registered and you find somebody is using it, you can have your lawyer send a cease and desist letter.
Make sure that your customers know that they are doing business with the correct person. For instance, if someone else is using your name or similar, and not giving the same level of customer service you offer your clients, your reputation might be harmed. Stand up for your trademark!
If YOU think that someone is infringing your trademark on Facebook you can report them to Facebook here.
What if my budget is really tight?
Register your trademark in ONE country first and then you can fill in with more as you can afford it. For many countries that recognize trademark priority, if you register within 6 months you can record the date as the first country you applied in. Consider it just another business expense like any other and make that investment in your business to protect it.
Whether you decide to register now or later and risk having to re-brand, keep in mind that your reputation with your customers is more important for your business.
MUSA Trademark is your Taiwan Trademark Agent. We help small and medium businesses register their trademarks. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us in the form below.