stegmanns_11_a2Practitioners are often asked when the best time is to trademark a business or product name. Entrepreneurs are in two minds: register before anyone else uses the name or, don’t register, as the costs are too high and the time it takes to register the mark is too long.

The fact of the matter is, it is best to register a trademark as soon as possible. The trademark will firstly prevent anyone else from using the name, or a confusingly similar name.

It secondly ensures that the name is truly available to use and that you are not infringing on someone else’s vested rights. It will ensure that you do not put yourself at legal risk.

A mark is infringing on the registered mark of someone else if it is identical or if it might confuse consumers. Proceeding with your trademark application will therefore immediately raise a red flag if a search shows that there is already a similar mark registered by another owner.

If your application is approved, you can rest assured that you are not infringing on someone else’s registered mark and that no other person or entity can use a mark or name similar to yours.

Nothing is worse than building on a brand for year or more and then receiving a demand that you will have to re-brand because you have infringed on someone else’s mark.

Early registration can therefore ensure that you can identify and work out any potential legal issues before further investment is made into your name, brand or logo

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By Jaco Grobler

Apply for a trademark before it is too late