To Trademark or Not to Trademark that is the Question...
Last week in amongst the madness there was a ray of sunshine. I received a letter informing me my trademark has been approved. Yep, that’s right - I decided to trademark the name of my business, Clairical, and here’s why I think you should at least consider doing the same.
“Why?” did I decide to do this? Well, a very kind VA pointed out to me 6 months ago that another Virtual Assistant had not only named their business Clairical, but had also used exactly the same branding. Trust me - it’s quite a shock when this happens. It’s time to step away from the computer and have a cup of tea, just to process it. Not only is this quite upsetting but it also feels personal. I spent hours creating and developing my brand identity on my own, and to say it was a labour of love is an understatement. To think someone had potentially taken such a short-cut on my hard work was very unsettling. However, it must be pointed out that this could of course been a complete coincidence.
Part of me also knew that at some point this was going to happen. The VA industry is now a crowded place and Clairical is such a great name for a VA business (if you’re called Claire of course). This is also one of those times when working for yourself can feel quite lonely and exposed. There isn’t a company solicitor or HR department to contact, or members of the management team to escalate to.
My first contact was Caroline who runs the Society of Virtual Assistants. This Society, for many VA’s, is our go-to source of support and advice. I would recommend that any business forges links and contacts within their industry for this very reason. Caroline was really supportive and offered some great advice and after doing a bit of research I decided to look into the possibility of trademarking the name.
What does trademarking actually achieve
When you register a trademark it does a number of things:
enables you to be able to take legal action against anyone who uses your brand without your permission, including counterfeiters
Use the ® symbol next to your brand - this shows it's yours and acts as a warning to others not to use it
sell and license your brand
Where to start
There’s lots of info on the gov.com website that tells you what you can trademark and the process behind it. You can also search to see if what you are wanting to trademark has already been trademarked. But this is a complicated process and I would recommend contacting a specialist for advice, or even helping you on a more practical basis with the application, depending on how many classifications you want to apply for. Just be aware - be prepared to wait as it is not an instant approval process and people can object.
And if you are wondering what happened to the said website, I contacted the VA and explained that I had been using the name for 3.5 years, They were very apologetic and took the website site down straight away. They also had a complete rebrand, including the name. Panic over!
Finally, you can also use the trademark in interesting ways after you have successfully applied. You can license, mortgage, transfer, merge and market your trademark, and these were things I had no idea about beforehand.
So, watch out world, you haven’t seen the last of Clairical!