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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was livid when I first found out that the surfing community and associated merch brand that I had nurtured since 2008 as a side gig for fun - was trademarked by some chinese importer of crap that slapped the same name on it and sold it on amazon merch in 2012. Unfortunately, although I sold goods, it never reached a material enough threshold to qualify as commercial seniority. So when I launched this business as a full-time job, I had to change the name and make sure all my followers were aware.


So I'm wondering when is the appropriate time to trademark? I think you need something like $3000 in annual sales to qualify for a commercial trademark? Any advice on this greatly appreciated.
 

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You should fly the name with the TM mark from day one. That is what shows prior commercial use. Nothing at all is required to use TM.

You get to have the R mark after applying for and getting the trademark registered. But a registered mark can be overturned by anyone who can prove prior commercial use.
 

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I've never heard of needing to exceed an annual sales threshold to qualify for a trademark. All you need to do is prove use in commerce and pay the application fee (and have a unique trademark, of course). If you were using the mark before that other company, you probably had legal rights to it. But if you already changed names, it's probably best to just move forward. As a startup brand, it's always best to focus your budget on inventory and marketing. But if you can afford it, it's a good idea to trademark as soon as you can. As NoXid mentioned, you can start using the ™ symbol right away to publicly claim ownership of the trademark. When you officially register the trademark, you can use the ® symbol.
 

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I've never heard of needing to exceed an annual sales threshold to qualify for a trademark. All you need to do is prove use in commerce and pay the application fee (and have a unique trademark, of course). If you were using the mark before that other company, you probably had legal rights to it. But if you already changed names, it's probably best to just move forward. As a startup brand, it's always best to focus your budget on inventory and marketing. But if you can afford it, it's a good idea to trademark as soon as you can. As NoXid mentioned, you can start using the ™ symbol right away to publicly claim ownership of the trademark. When you officially register the trademark, you can use the ® symbol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I wish I had that link that mentioned something about minimum revenue thresholds. Either way thank you guys this is great information. I would not have had the money to contest that trademark regardless of my seniority. Also, I'd had troubles securing the .com version of the domain. All in all, I do think the new name is more aligned with our mission now that we are a commercial venture and no longer a side gig for fun.


Again, thanks for the great information.
 

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Trademark is automatic, and registration is not really required at the beginning. Copyright and trade laws have you covered.


Examples of weak trademarks:

  • Yo-Yo
  • Jet Ski
These can actually be lost, even if registered, due to generalization. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generic_and_genericized_trademarks



Examples of strong trademarks:

  • Starbucks Logo
  • Adidas Logo
Copyright and trade laws:

The Starbucks and Adidas logos are obviously copyrighted, but can continue to be re-registered as trademarks even after the copyright has expired.

Consumers expect anything with the Adidas logo to be an Adidas product. Nobody else is allowed to use them.
 

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Not my work. I was just trying to point out that some folks will steal somebody else's artwork/idea and will then get away with using it. It happens. I suppose Starbucks isn't worried about Kevin's infringement since he's not making coffee. But it's a pretty blatant ripoff.
 

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Not my work. I was just trying to point out that some folks will steal somebody else's artwork/idea and will then get away with using it. It happens. I suppose Starbucks isn't worried about Kevin's infringement since he's not making coffee. But it's a pretty blatant ripoff.
This is not infringement. These logos very different.

It is not illegal to be inspired by other peoples art.

Big brand example:
 
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