Intellectual property can be an intricate process where you can make big leaps in protecting your ideas, but missteps could cost you dearly. You’ve probably seen the symbol of a trademark before—™ or ®—but maybe you haven’t really thought about everything the process entails.

Essentially, a trademark protects a word, symbol or phrase that identifies a unique product design. This may sound simple enough, but underlying requirements for managing disclosure, dealing with examiners and responding to infringement can derail any protection your design might get in a single stroke.

Why trademarks matter

If your company is the inventor or manufacturer of a product with a unique name that you plan to market extensively, you want to protect that name. You want to use it, for customers to know it and have them look for it. You don’t want another business to capitalize on your work, taking away some of the value you have put into establishing your product.

Steps to getting a trademark

If you’re considering getting a trademark for your business, the first step may be to consult an attorney with experience in intellectual property law. They can help you navigate common trademark-related issues:

  • Applying with unregistrable items
  • Disclosing information without protection
  • Falling short of legal requirements
  • Overlooking essential paperwork
  • Missing important deadlines
  • Failing to act against infringement

Having protection for your company’s intellectual property can be a necessary step for any business owner. You can reap the benefits while your brand performs in a crowded marketplace, as long as you stay on the straight and narrow path of trademarking.