Whenever I do a live Q&A on Instagram or YouTube it’s “trademark this” and “trademark that.” It seems like everyone is applying for one.
Of course, having a trademark can be a smart business decision for Amazon sellers. But that alone doesn’t mean you need one for your brand to be successful.
Today, I’m going to walk you through the eight benefits of having a trademark, and give you two reasons why you don’t need one, so that you can make an informed decision about what’s best for your brand.
Eight reasons to get a trademark
1. Trademarking adds credibility to your brand.
When you are trademarked, you get to proudly add that superscript registered circle with the “R” at the end of your brand name (for example “McGee Giggles®”). This adds a certain amount of clout and authority to your brand. If you ever see a company using the ®, and they're not trademarked, they could get in serious legal trouble.
The credibility that the little ® adds to your brand can also scare off hijackers. Your trademark intimidates hijackers from illegally selling on your listing under your specific, trademarked brand since it shows legal standing.
2. Trademarking gives you exclusive rights.
Specifically, you have legal rights to your brand name in case another brand tries to sell under that name or a similar-sounding one.
For example, let’s say your brand name is “McGee Giggles”. You sell toys and gifts like in a gag shop, but online. You trademark your brand name with the United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) under the classification (meaning “category”) Toys and Sporting Goods.
If you notice another brand with the name “McGee Giggles”—or any sort of similar name that might cause confusion for customers—is selling in that same category, they are breaking the law. More importantly, you have legal rights to contest their brand and have them stop selling under your trademarked brand name or their similar-sounding name.
3. Trademarking gives you remedies for unauthorized use.
If you have a trademark, and a hijacker sells on your Amazon listing—or sells anywhere else in your product category under your trademarked name, or a name that sounds similar—you have legal rights to make them stop.
You can send the infringer a cease and desist letter. You don’t need a lawyer for this option. On your own, you can simply tell the infringer to stop because they’re breaking the law by going against your trademark rights. Click here for a free cease and desist letter that has been shown to scare away hijackers 80% of the time or more.
You can sue for infringement. If another brand sells your products without permission or sells similar products under your brand name—or a similar-sounding name—in such a way that causes confusion about where the products originated and potentially the integrity of your brand, you can take them to court for illegal use of that name. As long as you have your trademark, and were the first to use that brand name, the court will order them to stop.
You can ask for delivery of infringing goods. This means that if a hijacker sells products under your name illegally, you can legally request that their products be delivered to you or destroyed. This allows you to ensure their products do not make it back onto the market after legal proceedings have concluded. Delivery of infringing goods typically only occurs once a court has established that there has indeed been infringement on your trademark.
You can request payment for damages. You will need a lawyer for this option, but you can have your lawyer send the infringer a letter telling them they owe you payment and compensation for the funds you lost because they sold under your trademarked brand name.
4. Trademarking can raise the value of your company.
A trademark on your brand can drastically increase the value of your company if you ever decide to sell it. A trademark offers your business’s buyer security because your brand comes with protection against hijackers and knockoffs.
A trademark also signals to potential buyers that both your brand and products are recognized, high-valued, and trusted by consumers, which adds immense value to your company. Visit JOD.com/freedom to learn how you can build and grow your Amazon business and eventually sell it for massive value.
5. Trademarking can increase your earning potential.
Once your brand is trademarked and has substantial public trust and recognition, you can actually license your brand to other sellers so that they pay you a fee to manufacture products under your brand name.
You can also grant distributor rights to individuals or companies to buy your products wholesale. Wholesale means companies buy your stock in large quantities at a discount and then sell them on their own platform under your brand name for regular retail price.
6. Trademarking gives you authority at shipping ports.
When your products are shipped to the United States from China—or wherever they’re manufactured—they must pass through customs at their US port of entry. This is true of imported goods for any company.
If port authorities find that another company is importing counterfeit products under your brand name, they can stop these products from entering the country, and thus, being sold.
This happens a lot with companies who have strong brand recognition and it’s fairly common with better-known brand names. There’s no reason you shouldn’t think like them; think big to go big.
7. Trademarking can make it easier to apply for a trademark in other regions.
Trademarks are worldwide. And while you can’t enforce a trademark from the US in the European Union, you can use a trademark in the US as a basis to apply for a trademark in the European Union, or wherever else you would like your brand registered as a trademark.
This is a great resource for you if you have plans to expand your Amazon store—and any other ecommerce you might do outside of Amazon—throughout other regions of the world.
8. Trademarking allows you to apply for Brand Registry for your brands on Amazon.
Being brand registered on Amazon gives you huge advantages. It means you can add A+ content to your listing, which means your listing will be far more beautiful and convert far better than those who are not brand registered.
In addition, brand registry comes with Brand Analytics, which gives you insight into various levels of keyword search volume.
Brand registry also gives you more tools to protect your brand name. This means that if hijackers try and steal your hard work by selling under your brand name, you will have more authority and power to get them off your listing than if you are not brand registered.
Keep in mind, Amazon doesn’t know when a hijacker illegally sells on your listing. Hijackers often pose as arbitrageurs—people who legally buy and resell products for profit. Amazon won’t know the difference unless you report these hijackers. But you’ll have more backing from Amazon if you’re brand registered.
Now that we’ve covered trademark benefits, let me give you two specific reasons why you don’t need a trademark.
Two reasons you don’t need a trademark.
1. You do NOT need a trademark to build a strong business on Amazon.
You can still build a strong brand on Amazon without a trademark. You need to trademark to get brand registered, but a trademark is not necessary for a successful store on Amazon or elsewhere.
If you are limited on funds, there is no reason you can’t wait. Save your money and launch your product!
Once your product is profitable you can use that money to get your trademark later, and then get brand registered.
2. You do NOT need a trademark to keep your brand name.
Now, this is where a lot of sellers get nervous because they’re worried that if they don’t trademark right away, they’ll lose their brand name to another company.
However, the biggest protection to your brand name is not the USPTO. It is not a trademark, or a patent, or a copyright.
The biggest protection to your brand name is simply selling under that brand name.
You’ll love this:
If you have sold products under your brand name without a trademark, and another company gets a trademark for your brand name in the same category you sell in, can that company swoop in and steal your brand name?
No. If they did not sell under that name before you did, you have the right to make them stop.
This is called first rights use under common law. First rights use gives…well, rights to the first who uses a brand name in a particular product category, rather than the first who trademarks it.
And it’s something you can take advantage of.
For example, let’s say you sell under the name “McGee Giggles” in the Toys and Sporting Goods class. One day, you discover a newer company with the exact same name—“McGee Giggles”—has trademarked that name in the same category. You can contest their trademark and, if you win, make them give you their trademark.
You can also add increased protection to your brand name—and scare off potential hijackers—when you add a superscript “TM" at the end of your name (i.e. “McGee Giggles™”). This indicates your intent to trademark your name or that you have filed for a trademark, but have not yet received it.
If another company uses the same brand name—or even a similar name—for a different product category, there’s no conflict of interest. There’s no cause for buyer confusion. They can do that; it’s totally legal.
For example, let’s look at the brand name “Delta”. You probably think of the airline when you hear that name. Actually, “Delta” is also a brand name trademarked by the company that makes water faucets. There’s Delta Faucet and Delta Air Lines. They’re spelled the exact same way, and they’re both a trademarked brand name.
The reason there’s no conflict of interest, confusion, or legal problem is because Delta Air Lines and Delta Faucet are in two totally different brand categories. And you can make this same scenario work for you if you find a brand name you love, but is already in use in a completely non-related category.
So if you wait to trademark, you just need to start selling under your chosen brand name. After you’ve made sure no one else sells under that name (or a similar one) in your same product category, get your brand name, sell under it, and later on you can get your trademark.
No matter what, we still recommend that you choose your brand name as if you intend to trademark it.
Getting a trademark right away is not for everyone. Getting a trademark has its advantages, but that doesn’t mean it’s absolutely necessary if now is not the right time for you.
Now, say you do want a trademark right away. Depending on which method you choose, trademarks can range from inexpensive to costly. We break down the four different ways of getting your trademark, along with every other step to getting your trademark, here. We can also take you through the step-by-step process of filing yourself (to save money 💵) here.
If you’re interested in having Just One Dime coach you through your trademark, along with everything else that goes into building an Amazon store and brand, we can do that too.
So, the question remains: will you trademark or not? Let me know in the comments.