The Road Less Traveled
So you think you have the next big idea? Perhaps the next Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, (insert favorite social media platform here) you get the picture. But before these start-ups got their day in the spotlight it all started with an idea, personal sacrifice, and a group of hard-working individuals willing to work long nights and weekends.
Assembling “The SQUAD”
This initial step is one of the most important components of a successful start up. Co-Founders can NOT grab on to greatness by their lonesome, they need a team around them that they can count on when the going gets tough and trust me it will get tough. It is important to establish the culture early and really find employees that are going to work hard for the corporation and understands that they are working towards the “BIG PICTURE”. But, for the sake of this article, you already have the perfect team, an original “Big Three” as well as key surrounding players. Now you are ready to execute your idea and join the league of elite list of Co-Founders before you. But wait I forgot about
And while I am not an attorney yet, in the coming years this section of my column could cost you anywhere from $500-$1,000 dollars. Or you can go the road less traveled, which is doing the trademarking by yourself. Of course, from a logical standpoint that is not the best way to go about this and could land you in a bit of trouble with Trademark Laws. How bad can it be you might ask? Well, Trademarks fall into four different categories arbitrary/fanciful, suggestive, descriptive, and generic. These terms—to the naked eye—could look rather simplistic and easy to decipher but one wrong move could land you in a lot of trouble with trademark infringement. Not only are these terms on a case-by-case basis but also they are connected to a lot of complex precedent that cannot be readily deciphered. For example, let’s say you have already accrued users and some investors under the umbrella Yo-Yo and now you want to trademark it. So your company “Yo-Yo Computer Industries” is in an entirely different industry than “YoYo spinning toys , Inc”. Initially, you search the USPTO and you realize that it is no longer a “live” trademark. So, you decide that you want to Trademark that word, but it is not as simple as that. Yo-Yo is categorized as a generic trademark in the U.S. and the only way it could receive trademark status is if you were able to establish a “secondary meaning”, see Zatarain’s, Inc. v. Oak Grove Smokehouse, Inc., 698 F.2d 786 (5th Cir. 1983). But, how can you show that your brand has received a “secondary meaning” and the next question you must answer: is whether the secondary meaning of YoYo is strictly in the specific geographic location of your company(New York) or is it worldwide, like for instance when you think Apple, Inc you think computers globally. So many questions and roadblocks that only competent legal counsel can guide you through. My advice is:
1) Pick something generic to use for the time being until you raise enough capital and then began to brainstorm the perfect name.
2) After you raise capital, go into a deep like trans-like and channel your inner Google.
3) And remember, Google began as BackRub!