Trademark matters can be overwhelming for startups. According to a recent EU study, only a small minority, about 9%, of SMEs in the EU have protected any intellectual property despite it dramatically improving their performance. You can read more about that here.

Here’s a simple list to help you get on the right path.

 

1. Basics

☐ Make sure your main brand is eligible for legal protection

☐ Identify all commercial identifiers that could be protected as trademarks

☐ Create a logo to give visual expression to your brand

☐ Make sure that nobody has registered or is using a similar name/logo

 

2. Protecting your trademark

☐ Decide what you want to achieve with trademark registrations

☐ Decide your budget

☐ Check for government grants and innovation programs to help you with costs

☐ Choose the marks that need legal protection

☐ Identify the goods and services that your trademarks should cover

☐ Evaluate whether legal help is needed to help you protect your trademark

☐ Identify in which countries you need trademark protection

☐ Submit your first application in your home country

☐ Submit foreign applications within 6 months of the first application

☐ Use WIPO’s Madrid System for international registrations whenever possible

 

3. Maintaining the trademark rights

☐ Use your trademark correctly

☐ Keep files of your cases and deadlines

☐ Save evidence of use of your trademarks periodically

☐ Monitor trademark databases to see conflicting applications

☐ Monitor the internet to find out possible infringements

☐ Deal with infringements

☐ Make sure others don’t use your trademark descriptively

☐ Renew your trademark registrations

☐ Re-evaluate and review the scope of your trademark rights and portfolio

☐ Rinse and repeat – start again from step 1

 

Going through these steps will get you ahead of most of your competitors. For another easy guide, check our Trademark Canvas.