In a world obsessed with brands, both on the part of the producers and the consumers, even small businesses have to register trademark! The cost of not doing so can jeopardize the business, as illustrated by the case of Drop Anchor Brewing and Anchor Brewing Co.
A Good Example
Anchor Brewing Co., a large California-based brewery, sent Drop Anchor Brewing, a small Washington State-based craft brewery, a cease and desist letter asking it to stop using the word “Anchor” in its name. The former’s allegation was that it has federal trademark registration over the word and, thus, it has exclusive use of it in the beer industry. The result: Drop Anchor Brewing changed its name as well as everything else on its logo, signs, labels, taps, and even shirts to avoid a costly lawsuit – but the cost of these changes still cost it an arm and a leg.
This case illustrates the benefits of getting your trademark registered on one hand and the hazards of not doing so on the other hand.
A Host of Reasons to Register ASAP
Don’t think that Drop Anchor Brewing’s case won’t happen to you for whatever reason, such as you’re just a small company with a novel idea. You will be surprised at the intense competition for ideas, goods and services in the market so vigilance is the key.
Why register your brand or mark ASAP, if you haven’t done so yet? Here are four reasons to think about.
When you register your brand and its associated images as a trademark, you’re setting it up for success because a brand equals an identity. Your brand identity distinguishes your business and its products and/or services from the rest of the competition – and with a brand-obsessed society, such distinction is crucial to your success.
While you can have exclusive right to use your business name, you can only do so within the state where it’s registered, not on the federal level. Furthermore, your business may have common law trademark protection but it only applies to the geographic area where it’s been used.
When you decide to expand your business operations, particularly opening out-of-state branches, you may run into issues with competitors, consumers and government regulatory agencies. Your target customers, for example, may confuse your brand and business with other businesses with similar names or images. Your competitor with a federal trademark may also file a lawsuit, limit your operations, and/or force a name change, all of which will be costlier than if you registered your trademark at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the first place.
The bottom line: A trademark registration at the USPTO provides you and your business national exclusive rights over your brand and its related images. This alone comes with a wide range of benefits so act as soon as you can.