Business owners across Minnesota have been struggling with an uncertain business landscape. Financial constraints, employee safety and health regulations that change all the time can put an incredible strain on owners.
With so much to think about, it can be easy to put seemingly less pressing matters – like your intellectual property rights – on the backburner. However, doing so could have costly consequences.
How the pandemic could affect your trademark
If you have had to temporarily close your doors or have had to pivot into new ways of operating, you may not be using your trademark. If this nonuse continues, you could lose your rights due to abandonment.
That said, there are excusable reasons for nonuse. When there is a temporary interruption in a party’s ability to use their trademark, filing a declaration of nonuse can allow trademark holders to retain their rights. However, the interruption must stem from factors beyond an owner’s control – like the restrictions brought on by a pandemic.
That said, you can avoid nonuse issues by continuing to use your trademark.
Continuing to use your trademark
Even if you have shut down, do not announce to your customers or partners that you have officially closed unless there is no chance that you are closed for good. If there is even a small chance of reopening, communicate with interested parties that you intend to continue operations at some point.
You can also continue to make your products or services available in other ways. You might decide to sell your products online or offer curbside services if you aren’t already doing this. Some business owners create blogs, tutorials and other mediums to ensure their protected material remains in-use and accessible.
Whatever you decide to do, know that doing nothing could result in the loss of your trademark. To avoid this, you can talk to an attorney about the paperwork you may need to file and what you can do to prevent interruptions that leave your intellectual property vulnerable.