Are You Mismanaging Your Most Important Assets?

Trademark management is an important but often ignored opportunity in business. Your marks identify your business, and embody all of the value that you have created in building your business. Unfortunately, many business owners fail to properly manage their marks, and so imperil the value they have created.

A common mistake that many businesses make is failing to maintain a centralized record of all their marks used in commerce. As a result, managers may be unsure of the status of their marks and often come to rely on a mark that they later learn is not protected, or worse, already owned by another business.

Many businesses delegate the maintenance of mark records to their law firm. Unfortunately this often prevents the people who know the most about the marks in use from reviewing the records. A central mark registry should be accessible by all members of your organization, particularly those in marketing, sales, and public relations. People in these functions create marks, and know which marks are used and which have recently been created. They should be able to periodically review mark records to assure that they are up to date.

Your centralized record of marks should include each mark with the text or image associated with each. Marks can also be sounds and other identifiers that distinguish your business. The record for each mark should include the date the mark was first used in commerce and the geographic regions where it was used. This can be very important if a dispute later arises. Finally, each record should list the products described by the mark.

The centralized record should also include the trademark registration status, including the date a registration was filed, the date when a mark is registered, and dates for renewal fees. These are important if your attorney is not actively managing your trademark portfolio.

By managing your marks in a centralized record, you can verify that all the marks identifying your business are protected. In addition, you have an invaluable record to assure that maintenance fees are paid and for use if a conflict over marks ever arises.