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Today’s story comes from Kat Cunningham founder of Moresource. Moresource offers payroll, HR, benefits administration, bookkeeping, insurance – all lines, and IT services to businesses large and small. Startups have a passion for their business but once they add their first employee and become an employer, it is a whole new ball game!
I founded my company and called it Multi Services Incorporated. After one year in business I was contacted by an attorney representing a company called Multi Service Corporation in Overland Park, KS suggesting strongly that I change the name of my business or I risk trademark infringement. Changing the business name of a new startup is expensive. Letterhead, brochures, signage, etc have to be changed. In order to find a unique name we came up with Moresource, a name that we hightlighted in the logo as – Missouri Resource and More Source – all at the same time. VERY unique and thinking easy to trademark. Not the case! A company in Chicago called Source Services opposed my trademark application causing me to enter into an agreement on the use of my name.
Once I received the Cease and Desist letter from the attorney I quickly contacted an attorney specializing in Trademark Law. Of course all of the allegations in the letter caused me great concern. The way the letter read, I set out to benefit from their already established name, when in fact, I didn’t even know the company, in Overland Park, KS existed. To eliminate the problem going forward, we hired a local PR firm creating a NEW name for my company. I have attached the original logo and the one that we use now. In looking at the old logo, you will note we branded Moresource by highlighting MO Resource and More Source! Very unique AND memorable. In 2002, once our brand was established we updated our mark and added a tag line, which we in fact, trademarked also! “We Mind Your Own Business.”
How to Handle it:
When starting one’s company, the passion is the service or goods sold; the focus needs to be on the new start-up! My recommendation to any new entrepreneur is to protect their name, domain names, images, symbols, logos, slogans or phrases, colors, product design, and/or product packaging is to hire a good trademark attorney who will conduct a “trademark availability” search. This is a must do, first step, to getting started in business! Believe me when I say, reprinting business cards, letter head, brochures, buying new signage etc. is far more expensive than the investment you make hiring this specialized attorney.
Have you been in this situation? What is your advice for protecting your company? Let us know in the comments.
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Category: Startup Advice