An immediately recognizable trademark is a valuable branding tool in fashion. A memorable word, phrase, symbol or design, or combination of these that readily identifies and distinguishes the designer’s apparel or accessories creates an immediate and visceral correlation between brand exclusivity and customer loyalty. Here are four tips for making your mark in fashion:
1. Make your mark strong.
In designing a trademark consider how to create the strongest mark possible for your brand. A generic or merely descriptive mark is weak. It does little to nothing to distinguish your brand’s offerings, and it may not be protectable. You want a strong mark that is distinct and immediately identifies your brand for the consumer. In fashion, your goal is to create a strong mark that becomes a coveted status symbol; conveying status and distinction for your brand and its followers. And, a strong mark is much easier to protect.
2. Make your mark personal.
To ensure recognition and brand distinction, your trademark should not be confusingly similar to other marks in use. After all, you don’t want to drive consumers (and related revenues) to similar products or brands because of confusion. An attorney can help determine whether the mark you want to use has been registered and whether a confusingly similar mark exists.
3. Make your mark protectable.
Use your mark in advertising and sales. While registration of a trademark is an important step in protecting the mark, registration alone is not enough to establish rights in the mark. Rights in a trademark are established only by commercial use of the mark. Pending registration, a trademark in use is distinguished by the TM symbol appended to the mark. Although not necessary to establish commercial use of the mark itself, use of the TM symbol with the mark plainly tells the world you’re using and protecting the mark.
Register your mark. An attorney can help you determine when and where to register and what class your product falls in for registration purposes. Once the mark is registered, use the ® symbol with the mark to tell the world your mark is registered, in use, and protectable.
4. Make your mark last.
Maintain continuous use of your mark in sales and advertising and follow up on extensions and filings to keep your registration current and continuous.
Protect your mark. Be on the lookout for unauthorized uses, counterfeits, and marks of other brands that are confusingly similar. Don’t be afraid to challenge attempts to profit from your mark and the brand recognition it carries. An attorney can advise on and assist with enforcement options.