Top Texas Legal Advice for Texas Business Owners:
Get a Trademark
As a practicing Texas trademark attorney for over 34 years, I have worked with Texas startups and new Texas businesses in almost every area including Texas restaurants, Texas construction companies, Texas technology firms, Texas retail stores, Texas medical practices, and Texas professional services. Although starting up a new business in Texas as an LLC or S Corporation is always a challenge, one particular mistake rises to the top of the list – not getting a trademark. Unfortunately, most clients fail to understand why registering a trademark is critical to the success of their new Texas company. Falling into the Trademark Trap can lead to business failure and expensive litigation in Texas.
Without a trademark you cannot protect the name of your company and its brand. Although you can register the name of your business with the Texas Secretary of State to get an LLC (Limited Liability Company) or S Corporation, it does not protect your name from being shut down for trademark infringement if someone else in Texas or another state decides to use it. The vast majority of clients fail to understand this critical fact and will often run into difficult and expensive problems later on.
For example, let’s say you come up with a new name for a Texas steakhouse called the “Happy Rancher Texas Roadhouse” and register it as an LLC in Texas. However, you decide not to register the trademark with the United States Trademark Office in Washington, D.C.
You seem to have the restaurant “Midas Touch” from the first day of operations. You have a banner first year and open another Texas restaurant location. Things are going great until you get a nasty letter called a Cease & Desist in the mail from a law firm in NYC stating that their client in Manhattan has the trademark for Happy Rancher Texas Roadhouse. The attorney letter informs that you must stop using the name of your restaurant or face an immediate lawsuit.
You cannot believe this is happening and visit a trademark attorney in Texas who delivers the bad news: You have to take down the name of your restaurant and start all over again with a new brand because someone else in another state got the trademark before you did.
Sounds unfair but there is no way out of this dilemma unless you reach a deal with the owner of the trademark to license the use in another state. That almost never happens and if it does, expect to pay a fortune for it!
Moral of the story is to consult a Texas trademark attorney about protecting your company name before you open your doors. Even if the name is available in Texas, you must still find out if the trademark is available in the United States.
The process of getting a trademark is critical to the success of your Texas startup and new Texas business. We’ve been handling trademarks for decades and look forward to answering your questions.
Give us a call for a complementary consultation at our Austin, Dallas, or Houston offices of the Moster Law Firm.