Your website is your livelihood. Whether it’s your blog, your online store, or the internet presence of your company, it’s a large part of how your business is run, and therefore directly reflects upon your reputation and your profits.
Since your website is vital to your success, you’ve likely taken all of the proper steps to ensure that your web content is your own, and as such are aware of the potential losses that could incur if another company were to overstep their bounds and lay claim to portions of your website.
But have you done everything that you can to properly trademark your website?
A trademark is used to designate a word that refers to a company’s proprietary goods. We’re all familiar with the symbol that establishes a trademark, but what does it really mean and how can you legally apply it to your website?
Read below to learn more.
What Is a Trademark?
While anyone can use the small TM symbol for the names of their company’s goods, symbols, or property, simply using that symbol does not mean that another company cannot use the same words or phrases to describe a similar product or service, or that the business specifically owns the trademark. For instance, if Company A uses a trademark, then Company B uses the same trademark for a similar product, Company A would have to prove that they had used the trademark first, which is not easy to do.
In order for a company to own the trademark it must be registered with the U.S. Patent Office. This is the only way that a company has the legal right to claim a trademark as their own, or to file suit for infringement if another company uses the mark. This also allows you to use the registered trademark symbol.
What Is Copyright?
Copyright differs from trademark in that it applies to works of art, literature, film, and other works that fall under a creative category. It does not apply to symbols, slogans, or ideas. The creator of the work needs only add the copyright symbol to their work, or a simple statement describing the copyright and its attributes.
Copyrights do not need to be registered but it can be wise to do so. If you’ve found that another entity or website has used your content without the proper attribution or payment, you’ll have a greater chance of fighting the case if you’ve registered your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.
Can You Trademark Your Domain Name?
One’s domain name is likely the first thing a business owner would like to trademark, but this is quite a complicated matter. Unless your domain name is also the name of your good or service that has been registered with the U.S. Patent Office, then you are not able to trademark the website URL. As most domain names refer generally to the goods or services offered, there is little chance that the business owner can successfully attain a trademark in those situations.
The best course of action is to trademark your specific products or services that are unique to your business, and mark them as such on your website.
What Is the Best Way to Secure My Trademark?
The best and most reliable way to establish and register your trademark for your website is by working with a qualified legal expert. The process of filing for a trademark with the patent office is lengthy and for someone who is not well versed in the legal process it could prove to be extremely difficult. Registering your trademark online with a legal service is much easier in comparison.
There are many reputable online services that specialize in legal issues pertaining to trademark and copyright issues. Be certain that you ask questions and ensure that your chosen legal team can provide sufficient references indicating that they’ve successfully performed work similar to the type you are requesting.
As more and more of the world’s business is done online, there are more reasons than ever to ensure that your company’s online presence is protected from all angles. From your website’s content to your symbols and the names of your products, it’s imperative that you protect yourself legally, ideally right from the start. Contact a lawyer and get your trademark process started.