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Why Trademarks Matter for Expanding Businesses

Deborah Sweeney
Deborah Sweeney

The long-run benefits of filing

Amazon has taken yet another major leap forward in its plan to revolutionize the food industry. On July 6, the brand registered a trademark with the USPTO for a service otherwise known as "We do the prep. You be the chef." As reported on CNBC, the trademark application further details that this service will be offering customers meal kits containing grains, noodles, rice, pasta and baked goods. The kits will come ready-assembled for cooking into meals.

Sounds like a familiar concept, doesn't it? These services are pretty much already provided by Blue Apron, the largest provider of meal kits in the United States. Blue Apron, which recently listed on the public market, has seen the shares of its stock tumble since its initial IPO – and Amazon's announcement could prove to be a continuing threat for the company as well.

When businesses expand their offerings, some of their focus will rightly be on testing out their products or services and considering branding elements. But it's also important to file for trademarks for said products and services ASAP. What you offer might be considered competition to other brands, but a trademark legally protects you and verifies that your services are indeed truly unique.

Filing for trademarks might cost you a little extra to do now, but here's a look at some of the benefits doing so offers in the long run.

You have exclusive rights to the mark.

In the unlikely event that Amazon did not file a trademark and decided to plunge ahead with its meal-kit services, Blue Apron could have potentially filed for a lawsuit. However, because both companies have registered their trademarks, each has the exclusive rights to its brand's intellectual property, which includes logo designs, names, phrases and taglines.

You can file at different stages in the game.

What do the rules for trademarks look like when you're considering using the mark later for a product that you're still testing out or want to use it as soon as possible for a new launch? Here's a quick timeline to refer to for marks at all stages of use.

  • If you want to begin publicizing your services ASAP, conduct a search and opt for early filing to make sure that your mark isn't infringing on any other registrations.
  • If you plan on trademarking your products or services soon, but not right now, file an intent-to-use trademark application, which will allow the registration to be issued once you're ready to open for business.
  • If you have (gulp) already started using the mark, file under the use-in-commerce basis. For this particular filing, the mark will need to be used in connection with the goods and services listed in your application.

It's proof that your ideas are unique.

Time after time, it's the same old story: Someone thinks they have the most genius idea in the world and moves forward with it, only to discover that someone else thought of it first. You may wind up looking like a copycat. By filing for trademarks, businesses can legally claim original works of authorship as their own and assert that their ideas are truly unique. which keeps anyone else from plagiarizing or copying these unique assets. At the same time, it helps build credibility in your business, and this is ultimately key for companies and their consumer base, no matter if they're established corporations or startups.

Image Credit: kenary820/Shutterstock
Deborah Sweeney
Deborah Sweeney Member
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.