After last week’s post, we know that for a federal trademark we need to have interstate commerce, often because we are selling across state lines. So let’s pretend that we know we can apply for federal registration based on sales. Now, we have to decide if it is a strong trademark: Is this mark protectible? Is it too descriptive? Is it likely to be confused with someone else’s mark? Is it a little too risqué?
Assuming all of that is good to go, the next question is: Do we have the money for it? If all we are doing is breaking even on yarn purchases (i.e. not paying ourselves for our labor), then I’d argue that it may be more important to pay for labor. Remember when I had my emotional breakdown about my worth? Well, we are not free salsa. We are guacamole, baby. We are worth the up-charge.
UNLESS, that is, we think we are going to be purchased by Big Washcloth. We may want to show we have our intellectual property locked down to help get our value (and thus our purchase price) as high as possible. In other words: Is there something that makes it more important to lock down our portfolio than it is to pay ourselves? Is there some sort of super-guacamole out there? Be really, really sure that is the case because the first thing Big Washcloth will look at is your revenues. If you don’t have a positive cash-flow, is a registered trademark going to matter? Maybe it will, but you better be sure that is the case.
If what is holding you back is production, then it doesn’t matter that you have trademark clearance for sales in Boise if you can’t even produce enough to sell in Mount Horeb. Your money may be better spent building capacity. However, if you have plans to go nationwide as fast as possible and can meet the projected needs – just as soon as you figure out the Post Office kiosk – then getting trademark issues out of the way is likely a good use of your money.
Is this the beginning of a home and bath empire? Then, we may want to clear the way. But we also want to make sure that the company can stay alive and be around to keep making money. And, even better, grow! Will paying for and receiving our trademark now speed up or slow down our ability to scale?
So, it all circles back to that same command: Know your numbers. I know. It isn’t fun for me either. There’s a reason I am an attorney, not an accountant. But we have to know our numbers so we can make educated decisions.