March 15, 2017
Back in early 2016, I ended up driving behind a bus that had a huge ad for a local garbage removal company.
It was a pretty cool brand—and as I often do in these cases, I quickly checked if the brand was trademarked.
I came home and sent an email to the owner of the company suggesting that they should look into trademarking their brand.
Some time later, I started seeing more of their ads around Vancouver.
Still no trademark application filed.
I sent them a letter by mail.
A few months later, we received a request from them to conduct a free trademark search for their brand.
The trademark was available in both Canada and the U.S. and we were prepared to give them our unique 100% money-back guarantee.
They said they needed to think about it.
We kept following up and they kept thinking about it.
We sent out email reminders and left voice mails. But they needed more time to decide if their brand was worth a couple of thousand dollars.
In January of 2017, they finally decided they were about ready to give it another thought.
We did the search from scratch because with trademarks, what's available today may not be available tomorrow.
Lo and behold, we discovered that someone in a nearby province (a 'province' is a Canadian version of a U.S. 'state') filed for a very similar trademark in November of 2016. We changed the guarantee level from 100% to 0% and had to let the client know that they just blew an excellent opportunity to own and protect a great and (at least a year ago) perfectly franchisable brand.
If was the dictionary definition of a I-Told-You-So moment.
Everyone thinks those things would never happen to them because they only happen to other people.
I get it.
But if you're trying to build a franchise, if you're spending thousands of dollars on ads, if you are providing a service in a competitive market where the only real distinguishing factor is the brand—stubbornly refusing to invest in your own brand is not just naive, it's borderline criminal.
It's the perfect way to set yourself up for failure: either nobody steals your brand because what you've built is no good, or you will end up watching someone else rip the benefits of thousands of hours and dollars you invested in what you thought was your brand.
As you know from my story, helping people protect their IP is very personal to me. Having my father's example in front of me, I saw firsthand how it feels when someone steals what you've poured your heart and soul into.
But unfortunately, we see these horror stories all the time. And if I can help one business owner avoid the pain of going through completely unnecessary rebranding or litigation, I see it as my duty and my obligation to at least help identify the risks.
If you have a brand you believe in, don't wait until someone steals it from you. Protect it ASAP.