Crowdfunding portals are often designed to raise money for specific niche projects or, many times, social causes. A crowdfunding’s business’ name, logo, or slogan often plays a large role in connecting the public to the service that portal provides. As a result, a crowdfunding entity’s name, logo, or slogan is an important trademark asset for that business.
By way of background, a trademark is what identifies the source of goods or services, so when your crowdfunding business is called XYZ and the public knows that it serves a specific social cause, it hears XYZ, it knows you represent that cause, and the public can connect the dots and ultimately know that the money it donates through your portal will go to support certain types of causes. As a result, brand protection is extremely important for crowdfunding portals and trademark registration plays an important role in protecting your brand. How do you protect and acquire your trademark rights?
Number 1: Acquiring Trademark Rights
Trademark rights are an extremely valuable form of intellectual property and it is important to understand how you acquire these rights. Trademark rights accrue the same for a large corporation or a small startup. Specifically, trademark rights accrue when a mark is used in commerce. That means connecting your mark with the good or service you provide for sale with the general public. When you begin your service, i.e. when you start to offer crowdfunding portal services under your name, your logo, or your slogan, you are accruing trademark rights in those marks. No registration is needed to start acquiring trademark rights.
Number 2: Benefits of Federal Trademark Registration
When you start using a mark in commerce, you are acquiring what are called common law trademark rights. These are unregistered rights that accrue automatically based on use. Common law trademark rights are often identified with the superscript TM next to a logo or name or slogan. Anyone can use that superscript TM without any formal registration. However, registration of a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) brings a number of important benefits to your crowdfunding portal.
First, obtaining a registered trademark will give you nationwide priority to use your mark in connection with the good or service you provide. Common law rights, on the other hand, are limited to the areas in which you actually operate. This can create for a messy situation in which two companies providing similar services under similar marks are fighting about who conducted business in what area first. To avoid these fights, it’s recommended to file for trademark registration and obtain nationwide exclusivity to the use of your mark.
Formal registration of trademarks also gives you a legal presumption of ownership in the mark. That means if anyone wishes to challenge your trademark rights, it is incumbent upon the challenger to prove their case against you. This is an important step in any trademark litigation and you obtain a significant benefit and advantage to owning a registered trademark in any trademark lawsuit.
Additionally, owners of a registered trademark own intellectual property. This is an asset that can grow in value over time as your business grows. You can also license the use of your trademark to other crowdfunding platforms and receive compensation for doing so. However, if you do this, you should have a trademark licensing agreement in place.
Finally, trademark registration is also important in protecting your domain portfolios. You can register a domain name as a trademark with the federal government. Owning a trademark and your domain name can add additional protection to your trademark rights in the case of any domain dispute or cybersquatting claim.