Consider the story of Payam Tabibian, a small businessman who built a chain of hamburger restaurants called Z-Burger. As detailed in The New York Times, Mr. Tabibian created a distinctive retro-look trademark before he had even opened his first restaurant. After he drew the design, he registered it as his trademark in 2007.
By 2008, his restaurants, operated with partners, had grown to six locations. Business was good until the relationship between Mr. Tabibian and his partners soured. His partners—who are brothers—locked him out of his business, claiming he was an employee. The brothers filed suit to prohibit Mr. Tabibian from starting new restaurants with the Z-Burger trademark, and insisted he turn his trademarks over to them.
In August, 2015, a federal judge preliminarily ruled in favor of Mr. Tabibian. While awaiting the outcome of a forensic accounting report, Mr. Tabibian has opened new restaurants and a food truck with new partners.
Business relationships between small business partners often go south. For Mr. Tabibian, the outcome is good so far, primarily because he took the time to protect the trademark which became the calling card of his business. Many other entrepreneurs are not so lucky.
Take the time, pay the money, and register your trademark
Today’s marketing strategies intensely support definition and promotion of your brand. Your brand begins with your business name, word, design, or symbol. Without registering your trademark, you have almost no protection if another entrepreneur wants to use your name—and the good will and credibility you have built around your business.
If you are thinking about starting a business—or if you are already underway—here are important facts you need to know about registering your trademark:
Registering your brand name establishes the identity of your brand beyond common use. Money and time spent developing your product or service could be lost if you choose not to protect it. Litigation of any kind is expensive, especially if you are up against a competitor with deeper pockets aiming at your customer base.
Your trademark is not only your brand name or logo, but important intellectual property. Work with a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney to ensure your trademark is registered properly and enforced.
Know your rights—and how to protect those rights from unscrupulous competitors, or business partners who may want out of the deal. Launching a start-up, or pivoting your established small business toward greater success is not easy. When you want to shift from struggle to success, think about giving me a call at 585-633-7563.
Yours in profit,