President Trump has been in office for less than a month. Yet it would be fair to say that his time in office has been, if nothing else, eventful. While the more important aspects of his policies have received far greater attention, President Trump has also had a profound impact on trademarks. In fact, he is a one man machine for generating catchy slogans. As expected, a number of individuals have sought to capitalize on these slogans, with applications filed for “Drain the Swamp,” “Lock Her Up,” “Bad Hombres,” “Fake News,” and more. As of the time of publication, it does not appear that any one has yet filed for “I’m, Like, a Smart Person” yet.
The validity of these applications is a question for another day. Yet the deluge of applications raises a new rallying cry for anyone about to launch a new product or service: TRADEMARKS FIRST!
Before you unveil your catchy new product or company name to the public, ask yourself: am I adequately protected? It can be very difficult to force a third-party to give up a domain name, Twitter handle, or other social media account, even if you later obtain a trademark registration. Instead, button up these important items early. Register any available domain names. Sign up for any social media accounts that you might want. You can always cancel the account later. Plus, the domain names are likely cheaper now than they will be after you generate a buzz.
You should also take these steps before, or at the same time, as filing a trademark application. The USPTO database is a public database. As you know, people are constantly trying to use the internet to make money as easily and unscrupulously as possible. It should be no surprise third-parties often scan the records and attempt to register domain names for recently filed applications, with the goal of reselling them to the trademark owner at a profit. Trying to buy back a domain name can cost a lot of time and money; avoid it if you can.
So please, include some down time in your product rollout for a conversation with an attorney, a review of your intellectual property, and a summary of your social media strategy and, together, we can put Trademarks First again.