Intellectual property law is an unfamiliar term to many people, but we see signs of it every day on the packages we buy and the products we use. This branch of law includes patents, copyrights and trademarks. This article focuses on trademarks because reSettled Life was granted one on February 7, 2017.
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), “A trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.”
Two marks that indicate a trademark are a superscript “TM” and an “R” in a circle. The first mark signifies that a name or logo is being claimed by a person or company but has not been officially registered with the USPTO. The second mark stands for “registered trademark,” which means this trademark has been registered with the USPTO and is legally protected. Our name, “reSettled Life,” and our porch-swing logo are now trademarked.
Registering a trademark is not an easy process. The first step is to select a mark that is protectable. Common words in common fonts without any image would most likely not be able to be trademarked because they are found too frequently in everyday use. Once you decide on what you think is a unique name, font, and image, a search of the USPTO database will tell you whether or not your choice is different enough from other trademarks already registered for related services to be eligible.
A non-refundable application fee is required, and the process takes months – in our case eight months. Applicants are encouraged to hire a trademark attorney, which increases both the chances of success and the cost. Even after a trademark is registered, it is up to the owner to watch for other companies or individuals who may be using something similar to promote their goods or services and to take legal action if necessary.
You may be wondering right about now why anyone would go through this lengthy process. We can’t speak for other companies, but we know why we did it. Even though there are other senior transition groups out there, we think reSettled Life and the services we provide are special. From the way we handle our clients, initial consultations and moves, to our family of employees and the additional services we offer, there is no other company like us.
Unfortunately, there are people who don’t want to put in the hard work of creating a reputable company themselves, so they use the same logo as a successful company, or create a similar one, and take advantage of that company’s reputation. Not only does that take potential business from the original company, it can also tarnish their reputation if the impostor does a bad job, which is fairly likely to happen.
With a trademark on our name and logo, if someone tries to pass themselves off as us, we have the recourse to make them stop. We don’t ever want potential clients to be duped into thinking they are working with reSettled Life when they aren’t. And we want to protect our reputation so we can continue to provide our unique services to the community.