On Small Business routinely reaches out to a panel of entrepreneurs for answers to some of the most pressing questions facing small business owners. The following responses are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).
Q: What steps are worth taking you protect your brand?
Josh Weiss, president of Bluegala in Woodbury, New York:
“Early on, we purchased all our domains (.net, .co, etc) as well as misspellings, but found we weren’t receiving too much direct traffic through these (we were URL forwarding them to our main domain) and have since let them go.
We have our AdWords team actively monitor to make sure people aren’t bidding on our brand terms and then redirecting consumers to knockoff sites. Our affiliate management team also monitors that our branded terms aren’t used by our affiliates in search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns.”
Kenny Nguyen, CEO and founder of Big Fish Presentations in Baton Rouge, Louisiana:
“Mark Cuban once said when asking himself about his competition, ‘What would I do to kick my own ass?’ Besides trademarking/copyright our name, we stay up to date with recent trends and form partnerships with upcoming products, so that we can better help our customers.”
Darrah Brustein, founder and author of Finance Whiz Kids in Atlanta, Georgia:
“I did get a registered trademark and copyrighted my work for my book series. It felt more critical there than in my merchant services business.
Sometimes an unofficial TM can do the trick. I didn’t feel it necessary to buy any/all similar domains, but only ones that might be searched out of basic confusion. I run a daily Google Alert on each of my business names to keep an eye out for anyone infringing on my IP.
That last step has been worth the time, as I’ve found someone who was stepping on the toes of my trademark. If I didn’t have it, I would have had little grounds to ask him to stop.”
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of promising young entrepreneurs.