Legal Horror Story: 3 Trademark Filing Tips for Young Entrepreneurs

by / ⠀Startup Advice / September 1, 2012

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If you’re trying to file a trademark with zero legal experience, STOP!

If you don’t, it’s going to cost you.  I don’t mean the cliché, “it’s going to cost you” that means there will be consequences.  I mean literally, you’re going to lose money.

Here are 3 Trademark Filing Tips for young entrepreneurs:

1.  Hire a Lawyer.  I Repeat.  Hire a Lawyer.

I tried to file a trademark myself.  Not surprisingly, I screwed up and wasted money.   Not my brightest of moments.  Instead of trying to get it done right, I chose to try and save money.  Yeah, that definitely backfired.

If I had hired a lawyer right off the bat, I could have saved myself hundreds of dollars.   I ended up filing the wrong type of mark, which meant I had to file another mark.  Filing another mark costs extra money.

This could have all been avoided had I hired someone that actually knew what they were doing.  If you can afford to hire a professional, please do.  It will save you money in the long-run.

2.  Your Logo Isn’t Worth Anything

Due to being 22, inexperienced, and stupid, I chose to file a trademark for our logo.  Now, I know that was a stupid decision.  For example, I wanted to file for “Get Better Today”.  Because it’s a common phrase among athletes, I chose to use the words as a basic logo.  But the words are what’s important to me (see point 3), not the logo.

Unless your company’s name is Pepsi, Facebook, or Nike, your logo doesn’t mean much.  There’s no reason to try and trademark it.  Especially if you’re in a start-up, your logo will most likely change several times.  I’d put it way down your list of priorities.  At least wait until your company reaches a certain point.

3.  Logo Marks are different than Word Marks

Again, I wanted to trademark the phrases “Get Better Today” and “Get Better”.  Since it was the first time I’d filed anything, I filed for the logo only.  I didn’t even know there was a difference.

Unfortunately, logo marks don’t protect you much at all.  Logo marks give you the rights to that particular design.  They do not protect the usage of the words in the least bit.

Had I not ended up hiring a lawyer, the logo mark would have been worthless.  Another company could have introduced items or a website with those phrases.  The logo mark only protected the design, not the words.  Make sure you’re filing a WORD mark!


I’ll be honest with you though, you may not even need a trademark.  Ideas and words have ZERO value until they’re executed.  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to put the filing on your future plans.  It may be smart to wait until the company gets to a certain point. On the other side, there’s always the threat of someone filing underneath you and messing with your future plans.  I would recommend discussing it with your team.

These may sound like simple tips, but they are easy to screw up if you’re not experienced.  Weigh your options and decide if filing for a trademark fits into your company.  If it does, be smart.  If you don’t, you’ll waste money.

Michael Fear is the founder of  His company’s mission is to help people continue to improve and get better.  The website provides inspiration and tips on: Sports, Health, Fitness, & God. Chat with @MichaelEFear & @GetBetterTday on Twitter or Facebook.  

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About The Author


Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.

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