I enjoy cooking dinner for my wife and daughter, and I yell “Bam!” with every ingredient I add. I cut up garlic (Bam!), onions (Bam! Sniff...), and sauté them in a little bit of olive oil (Bam!). The problem is that I was doing this way before I had heard of the chef named Emeril Lagasse. It turns out that Emeril also likes to dramatize each ingredient, but he was just smart enough to register his emphatic use of the word “Bam!” as a trademark. This was disappointing to me because I also like to yell “Bam!” during any sporting event I participate in, or when I put a tip in a tip jar, or when I give a police officer my driver’s license.
In fact, most of the previous statements I just made were untrue. They were meant to incite readers to think “seriously, how has he never heard of Emeril Lagasse’s “Bam!”? I would venture to guess that most people will recognize Emeril’s “Bam!” for many years to come, and this illustrates a key point; an effective trademark can sky rocket a business to the front of its competition by attaching a recognizable brand to a product or company.
An effective federal registration can also prevent other businesses from confusing your customers, secure a nationwide monopoly in the name, and prevent others from misappropriating your company’s goodwill. So how does one go about obtaining a trademark?
Obviously creating a catchy, recognizable trademark is the first step in a surprisingly complicated process. Let’s say presidential hopeful Donald Trump wants to register his immense, thinning comb-over hairdo as the “American Politician Haircut of Tomorrow”. After he successfully registered the phrase “You’re Fired” as a trademark, Donald Trump has realized the key to successfully protecting a trademark is effective federal registration of said trademark.
While it is possible to register without the help of an attorney, the fact is your chances of successfully registering a trademark improve dramatically with an attorney involved. I very rarely use statistics to validate my claims (because sometimes just making things up is easier) but in this case the empirical data shows a significant increase in successful filings when a trademark attorney is involved. So if Donald Trump uses a trademark attorney to successfully register the name of his awful hairdo as a trademark, then people won’t be able to call their immense, thinning comb-over hairdos the “American Politician Haircut of Tomorrow.”
For me the key to deciding how to proceed with this process was the cost/risk ratio. It costs hundreds of dollars of non-refundable money to file a trademark application. If an application is not filled-out impeccably, the application is thrown out and the money is lost. I think it is silly to risk repeated failed applications (at the risk of potentially losing hundreds of dollars of non-refundable filing fees) when a trademark attorney can use their wealth of knowledge to get it done right. That is why I walked into Elliott Stapleton’s office with my trademark idea and laid it on his desk with an emphatic “Bam!”
If you have any questions on the information contained in this blog, see the business law website of Cincinnati attorney, Elliott Stapleton, with CMRS Law, 123 Boggs Lane, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246, or contact him at (513) 334-0099.
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Elliott Stapleton Attorney with CMRS Law