Establishing a strong brand is pivotal to business success. Protecting that brand is equally important. Yet many Paintless Dent Repair businesses overlook an important first step in securing their brand.

What can be trademarked?

A trademark is any unique word, symbol, name or device used to identify and distinguish the goods of one seller from the goods of another–think Nike’s swoosh, for example. A trademark allows the seller to protect what’s trademarked from use and/or misuse by competitors while building brand loyalty among repeat customers. Trademarks also help prevent confusion or manipulation of consumers. As a general rule, you can trademark your business name if you use it when advertising directly to your customers. If you don’t use your business name in direct communication with your customers, you probably can’t, because you’re not connecting your name to your brand and its attributes. If your business name will be a large part of your marketing, you should consider trademarking it.

From a branding perspective, the following are assets that can be protected: logos, names, tag lines and packaging. However, these assets can only be trademarked if they meet certain qualifications. A word or phrase that’s commonly used or already connected with another product or service in the same industry cannot be trademarked. For example, a generic term like “search engine” can’t be trademarked, but a unique name, like Google, can be. However, if your name is generic but used in an industry not typically related to the meaning of the term, you may be able to trademark it.

Tory Jenkins owner of Dent Shark recently explained the steps he took to protect his brand and name.

Hello I’m Tory Jenkins owner of Dent Shark Paintless Dent Repair in Northeast Pennsylvania. I recently went through the process of Trademarking my company logo, here is my story. While I was at the Mobile Tech Expo this past year a fellow dent tech asked me if I was working in his area. I am a route guy and I travel maybe a hour and a half in my area. This guy is at least three hours away and he explained to me that someone was in a few of his shops soliciting work and the guy had the same company name as mine and his business cards and logo where spot on to my logo. That’s what got me thinking about trademarks. I had spent a lot of time coming up with a unique companyDent Shark name and logo design. I made sure no one was using it or had it published as a trademark before I formed my company. I understand there are a lot of dent companies in the U.S. and more are popping up daily that’s why I feel it is important to protect your company image. If someone is trying to portray themselves as your company and doing sub par work or just not a good person in general that can kill your business in no time. If you have an employee that leaves your company they may try to do business under your company name while they have no affiliation with your company any longer. The Trademark of your company name/logo will protect you from letting this happen and you will have a legal recourse to stop any individual that attempts to use your logo. I contacted a attorney and he pointed me to legalzoom.com. Your logo and your company name are two separate things, and they require two separate filings. When you register your company name, it’s considered a “standard character mark” and what you’re protecting is just the name itself, completely separate from any font, coloring, or other styling. When registering your logo, you’re getting protection over the exact shape, orientation, stylization, and sometimes colors in that logo. You will need to have all of your company info information readily available when you go to start filling out the forms on legalzoom. They will need an exact description of what you are trademarking, (it can be complicated, but they walk you through it and you can modify things as you go). After I filled out the proper paperwork and filed it with legalzoom, they searched all the data bases in the U.S. and they will send you their findings. You may or may not, have to modify your paper work at that time. When I received my search results it revealed logo’s that could be similar to yours and they compare them. At this time you can choose to proceed with the filing or cancel any further action. Legalzoom attorney’s review all documents and will guide you through the process if needed.
After all the reviews by legalzoom they will send off your application for Trademark to the USPTO “U.S. Patent and Trademark Office” They will assign you a serial number and at that time you can review your official filling and track the progress of the USPTO review. It took about 3 months for my USPTO review to go through. My logo will be published in July of this year. The total cost of the Trademark was $744.00 which I believe it was well worth the cost, knowing that my business logo is protected from someone else using it.