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When you are starting a new business venture, it is important that all of the details are taken care of. You want to be sure that you are set up for success and that there are minimal surprises or unexpected hurdles you have to overcome. You have put a great deal of time, money, attention, and other resources into getting your business started, so you want to be sure that it can be sustained.

This is particularly important when it comes to legal protection for your business. The name that you create for yourself and your business is a key part of continued success, so having as much legal protection as possible for that brand is essential. Trademarks and domain names are two ways that you can protect your intellectual property and make a name for your business.

The Basics of Intellectual Property

Intellectual property can be difficult to understand because it is often considered an intangible product. There is not always a physical product to hold when you are discussing intellectual property rights, so people are unsure of what is considered intellectual property and how to protect it.

Intellectual property is anything that is created or developed entirely organically. If it comes directly from your mind and is fully original, then it is considered intellectual property. A few of the most common types of intellectual property are:

  • Original music, either recorded or written
  • Literary works, including novels, short stories, and poetry
  • Any type of original art, including digital
  • Inventions you have created and developed
  • Symbols or images created specifically to represent your brand
  • Original business names or logos
  • Recipes developed by your company

If you have created any type of intellectual property and you want to profit off of it in some way, it is important to establish some type of legal protection. Registering a trademark and establishing a domain name are great ways to achieve this.

What You Need to Know About Trademarks

A trademark is any word, image, or logo that is created specifically to represent a brand or a product. These things are intended to differentiate the products or services from others that may be similar. Trademarks are offered protection at both the state and federal levels.

At the state level, trademarks fall under what is called common law. This means that when a product is produced specifically under the moniker of anything that could be trademarked, such as a logo or a brand name, it is automatically granted a certain level of protection. These common law protections can be somewhat easily challenged as they are not fully binding, so there is also protection at the federal level.

Federal protection comes in the form of officially registering a trademark. This is a legally binding process that can carry significant penalties if it is infringed upon. If you wish to register any part of your brand as a trademark, there are certain criteria that must be met. If you meet each of these criteria, then your trademark will be protected from infringement by other brands or competitors.

Protecting Yourself from Trademark Infringement

There is not any guarantee of protection when you are attempting to register a trademark. Your mark, whether it be your brand name, a specific logo, or an image, must be distinctive in order for it to receive an official trademark. There are four categories that help determine whether a mark can be protected or not, which are:

  1. Arbitrary or Fanciful. These marks have no connection to the actual product that they represent. There is nothing in the name or symbol that is being trademarked that would easily indicate what the product or service is. Brands like Kodak cameras and Reebok shoes are examples of arbitrary or fanciful trademarks. These marks have the highest level of protection because they are so distinct.
  2. Suggestive. These marks are a step below fanciful, so they still have a good amount of protection in trademarks. Suggestive marks could be connected back to the specific type of product that is being advertised, but it is not a direct correlation. A brand like Under Armour would be considered suggestive because a connection could be made with the physical products sold, but it is not direct.
  3. Descriptive. This type of mark has a more direct correlation with the actual product that it represents. Descriptive marks usually include a reference to some identifiable aspect of the product. Trademarks like Cartoon Network or American Airlines would be descriptive marks. These are only given trademark protection if the name is more easily recognized than the actual product being sold.
  4. Generic. This level of a mark is not protected by trademark law. These marks simply name or describe the category of a product rather than a specific producer. A business selling “Shoe” brand shoes or “Mango” brand mangoes would not be given a trademark for their business. The reason for this is that there are so many people selling in that particular category that giving a trademark to one would create an unfair balance.

If you want to create a mark that is likely to be approved for a trademark, then it is important to ensure that your mark matches the correct criteria above. Once you have established a trademark, your mark cannot be used or falsely represented by anyone else. Another way to ensure that your brand and business name are protected and well-known is to establish a domain name.

The Purpose of Registering a Domain Name

A domain name is essentially the web address that is associated with your business or brand. As with trademarks, it is important that your domain name is distinct and memorable. If a major part of your business success relies on a stable online presence, then having a recognizable domain name is essential. One way to achieve this is to create a domain name that is unique and specific.

If you have a business or brand name that is very distinct, then using that as your domain name will likely suffice. If the name of your business is fairly generic, then it will be helpful to include the type of product or service you offer. This will not only help potential customers and clients remember it but can also make it easier to get legal protection for your domain name.

Protecting Yourself from Domain Name Infringement

Unlike a common law trademark, simply creating a domain name for your business is not enough to establish any type of legal protection. In order to protect yourself from domain name infringement, you may want to consider registering your domain name as a trademark. This will offer additional protections and give you the opportunity to take legal action against anyone who attempts to falsely represent your business through a fraudulent domain name. Working with an experienced trademark attorney is the best way to ensure that any trademarks, including your domain name, are registered properly.

How a Denver Trademark Attorney Can Help

Navigating the legal system can be overwhelming, even under the best circumstances. Working through the processes necessary to protect your brand and your business can be especially stressful because it is a key part of your livelihood. The help of an experienced trademark attorney can be invaluable as you complete the steps to establish your domain name. An expert trademark attorney can help in a few key ways.

  • Expertise. An attorney who specializes in trademark law will have years of dedicated and continuing education. They have studied and perfected the process of registering trademarks and everything that comes along with it, like establishing a domain name. Their extensive knowledge will allow them to analyze your case and know the best way to approach it.
  • Experience. The ideal attorney for this process will have years of experience working with clients who are completing the same process that you are. They have faced challenges, navigated difficult situations, and helped others achieve their goals. That experience will give them the background and knowledge they need to help you achieve your desired outcomes as well.
  • Guidance. The process of registering a trademark and establishing a domain name can feel overwhelming if you are not prepared for it. Working with an experienced, expert attorney can make the process more manageable and less stressful overall. Their knowledge and experience will allow them to offer support, resources, and information to help you establish your trademark and domain name quickly and efficiently.

Creating a business and a brand is a thrilling process, but it can also feel overwhelming and stressful. There may be problems and hurdles that you do not anticipate as you are getting yourself established in your industry. One of the most important aspects of success is creating a name and a brand that is easily recognizable.

Registering a trademark and establishing your domain name are two ways to help accomplish this goal. If you are unfamiliar with the legal system or simply want to guarantee that the process is handled correctly, then it is important to work with a dedicated attorney who has experience with trademark law and establishing domain names. The team at Four Reasons Legal is your ideal Denver trademark attorney. Contact us today, and let us help you get your domain name established.