Your business name is one of your most valuable assets! Its most likely the first thing a prospective client sees, they instantly form an opinion of who you are and what you do. Once they have become a client, when recommending you it is the name they shout about and tell all their friends. This is your brand. You! It’s a symbol of your reputation and if a competitor starts using your name you most likely won’t be happy about it!
Il set the scene: My name is Theresa, but most know me as The Naildresser®. Did you see that little ‘R’ there? Well, that is because my business name is a registered trademark. Many, many years ago my client’s little boy referred to me as ‘The Naildresser’ and it just stuck! My hard work in the industry had experienced some reach, my work and presence recognised in many places not just locally, and I was very aware my nickname was unique. After some years, I had investigated trademarking my brand – I would have been instantly heartbroken if someone down the road set up with my name and what harm that could cause me if they were not up the standard I had set for the brand I had built.
After some research, I instructed a patent lawyer, its not as scary as it sounds, but I wanted to make sure I did this right as I had no idea about how to begin such an application. I must admit it is very straight forward and swift, providing there is no one registered with your name. Not only had I registered The Naildresser® but I registered varying options so there was no loopholes, e.g. The Nail Dresser®. I will not bore you with the entire process, but none the less my applications were successful, and I was the proud legal owner of my very own trademarks!
Over the years there has been businesses set up with my name, one in particular caused me a lot of grief. Although they were at the other end of the country to me, I started to experience a lot of ‘No Shows’, great for the other business but frustrating for me! Clients were thinking they were another branch of my salons – ‘booking there’ but using my online booking platform. I was losing out financially and the client was not getting The Naildresser Service they thought they booked for. One time it was the other way round, they booked on the other business platform and arrived at my salon. I felt terrible as we run full most of the time, and I had to turn her away. I was so embarrassed. This business was blissfully unaware of my existence, as they had clearly not checked the trademark register when setting up their business, they may have seen me through social media, as I owned the main handles, but perhaps not considered any implications. It was not until my patent lawyer had got in touch the situation came to light.
What is a Trademark?
A registered Trademark gives you exclusive right to use your business name, nationwide, and use in the sectors that you identified in your registration. There are many classes but for example, Class 44 includes services, nail, and beauty salons etc, and you can register your trademark in as many classes as you wish. By having this registration, it allows you to enforce your trademark through the court system.
If someone is using your trademark this is considered unlawful and Copyright Infringement. Permission must always be granted for the use of a registered trademark. I would recommend contacting any offending business directly to resolve the issue but if this approach is not welcomed then you can enforce your rights by issuing a Cease-and-Desist Letter.