Feeling a bit confused by trademark registration? You’re not alone. Whether you’re a small business owner, a solo entrepreneur, or part of a growing start-up, it’d be worth your while to learn about trademarks now rather than later. In the end, it probably isn’t as confusing as you think and it could even help out your brand in the future.
Below you’ll find some information about trademarks and the registration process as well as how to keep tabs on your trademark.
What’s a Trademark?
A trademark can be a mark that represents your business. It’s a form of intellectual property that can take the form of a brand name, logo, design mark, or expression. A telltale sign of a trademark is a superscript TM symbol right after a brand name or logo. This is how it looks: ™.
A trademark can belong to a business or a personal brand that is run by just one individual. You see trademarks regularly on the packaging, websites, or corporate documents. Those two little letters let you know that this is a piece of intellectual property, something that the brand invested in because they believed in what they were doing.
The Importance of Securing a Trademark
If you’re serious about your business, then it’s in your best interest to secure a trademark. The same applies to anything related to your business.
If you went through the administrative struggle of setting up your business, creating a brand with a unique selling point, designing a logo, and attracting valuable talent, wouldn’t you want to protect your intellectual property? That’s why a trademark is important.
A registered trademark can include your company name, slogan, specific services, and/or logo. The peace of mind that comes with having a trademark, as well as the clout that it gives your business, is worth the investment.
It’s easy for smaller businesses to write it off as something that’s nice to have but not necessary. This attitude could end up biting them later on as they are leaving their companies open to infringement. They say that mimicry is the greatest form of flattery but as a business person, you don’t want anyone trying to operate under the guise of being your company.
If others were to pass off their goods and services as yours, what kind of effect would that have on your clients? You would probably lose their trust or, at the very least, confuse them. Consistency is key in business and that means keeping a regular brand image in your marketing, products, and interactions with customers. Infringement can seriously mess that up.
That’s where a registered trademark can help. With a registered trademark, you have the power to take legal action against anyone who tries to use your business name as their own. It can be the difference between securing your reputation with customers and becoming just another muddied small brand in a saturated market.
Registering a Trademark
When you decide to apply for a USA trademark, you’ll need to do so by adhering to the legal process set forth by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). You can hire an attorney to represent you or you can go about the process on your own.
Before you can register a trademark, you should be able to precisely identify your business’s purpose, including the nature of its products and services. You should also be sure that the name you’re choosing to apply with is not already in use by another entity. Mistakes such as these can delay the application process, which is why some businesses choose to hire an attorney.
Once you have decided which name(s), logo(s), and/or service(s) you wish to trademark and you’ve checked the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System, you can review the registration timelines and fees. Timelines will vary depending on what kind of company you are and where you’re filing from.
Fortunately, all of this is laid out on the USPTO’s website. As for fees, the initial trademark filing fee ranges from $225 to $400 depending on the class of goods. You’ll also be required to make your payment at the time of filing so come prepared. The application can be done online too.
If your business is not located in the United States, then your application process is going to vary. First of all, you will need the support of a U.S trademark attorney to serve as your representative to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. These applicants will probably need to show additional documentation and they have the choice of using the Madrid Protocol (an international trademark system that includes the U.S.) or an attorney to file.
Things to Remember
This may be a lot of information but it’s important and it’s better to learn it now than discover it later the hard way. Now that you know more about how the trademark registration process works, there are a few more details that you should keep in mind.
Once the application procedure is complete and you have had your trademark approved, you can set your focus on monitoring your trademark from time to time. You don’t have to check on it every day but a monthly review will let you know if anyone is trying to register your trademark as their own.
By searching through the USPTO’s trademark database, you can see the company names that are currently going through the trademark application procedure. New names that enter this database can be disputed for 30 days, including yours when you file. This means that checking the database every month will help you keep ahead of any infringement risks.
Hopefully, these tips helped to clarify trademark registration and its importance a bit more.
How to Train Your Managers (and Why it’s Important)
Having a great manager (not just an okay one) is so important to a business’s success. You will find that your employees work a lot harder when they have a great manager, because they want to impress, they want to help, and they do not want the business to fail. For information on training mangers, a useful link is: https://www.efrontlearning.com/blog/2019/02/how-to-train-managers.html. This will provide you with an overview of what is involved. To get it wrong will impact on staff engagement, performance, and retention.
Educate Them on the Importance of Their Role
To educate managers, there are textbooks, online resources, seminars, and eLearning courses available. These can bring a manager up to speed with not only tried and tested methods of management but also with the very latest methods. Training methods that are digital and more relevant to today’s business world. New managers can learn from already experienced managers and how they best achieve their results for their respective companies. Equally, managers can learn through good and effective training, targeted to their needs and that of their company. The best managers increase the motivation and mood of their staff on a continual basis, which in turn, increases their company’s productivity.
Training such as new managers training can be provided in-house, and be even more effective and targeted through the use of external training agencies. It can be a very effective conducted by specialists in this area, who know not only what it is like to be a new manager, but the skills that can make for an effective manager in the long term. Much can be learned from the experiences that former managers have faced in a variety of different types of businesses. To not offer a manager training is to allow them to fail. To not provide them with the tools for success is to make their progression slower and less effective, for themselves and those that they are managing. Management training is not only about training others but how to train those responsible for the training.
Encourage Them to Practice, Reflect, Learn and Repeat
The best way for a manager to learn is to continue practising their skills, to think about the result the skills are having on the staff and the business itself. Continuing to repeat these skills, the rights skills, can only improve them until they become second nature. That is, not to practise until you get it right, but to the extent that you cannot get it wrong. Skills such as: communicating effectively with staff, planning the progression of staff, the ability to delegate the work in an effective manner. In addition, the manager will need to learn skills in problem-solving and motivation. There are tricks to be learned, to be known. An effective leadership course can teach managers these skills initially, so that then be refined through constant use and monitoring of their effectiveness. It is not enough to put into practise these skills once, they have to be carried out several times to check their effectiveness on different groups of staff, who are likely to respond in different ways and with different results.
So, with much to consider, it is in the first instance necessary to recruit flexible managers who are going to respond to training. Managers who are not too fixed in their ways of managing for other companies that they cannot respond effectively to a new training scheme. Then, they need to be aware of exactly what their new role encompasses. This should next lead to an effective training scheme that they are going to engage with, as their staff will ultimately engage with their management approach. During completion of the training scheme, it will be a matter of continual practice, but the results will be rewarding.
What’s Amazon ASIN And How Do You Get One? Here’s Everything You Need To Know
Amazon is the world’s leading online marketplace. According to Statista, they have 213.4 million unique website visitors each month.
That’s a lot – accordingly, it’s no big surprise that every merchant wants to sell their products through Amazon.
If you also want to sell your products on Amazon, you need an Amazon ASIN.
But what is an ASIN?
ASIN means Amazon Standard Identification Number. It is an Amazon internal number that helps them keep track of your products.
Every product on Amazon has a unique Amazon Standard Identification Number.
In this article, you’ll learn everything about Amazon ASIN – what it is, why you need an ASIN and how to get one.
What Is Amazon ASIN?
ASIN stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number and it’s simply the product identifier used by Amazon. A product identifier is a scannable number like a UPC (barcode) to identify a product.
If you don’t know what’s a UPC, here’s an example of it:
ASIN is Amazon’s internal unique identifier to keep track of all the products sold on Amazon. With over 2,734,713 active sellers on Amazon, it would be impossible if every seller has their own unique identifier for their products.
There’s only one exception – if you want to sell books on Amazon, you don’t need to have an Amazon ASIN. That’s because every book has it’s own ISBN as an identifier. Amazon uses this ISBN to identify books, they don’t use their own ASIN.
I really don’t know exactly why, but I think it’s because Amazon started as an online bookseller in 1995.
When Do You Need An Amazon ASIN?
First of all, if you want to sell your products through Amazon, you need an Amazon ASIN. You need one unique ASIN for every product you sell on Amazon.
Second, if you sell the same product on two different marketplaces – for example, Amazon US and Amazon Germany, you need two different ASINs.
If this in case, you need two one ASIN for the US marketplace and another one for the german Amazon marketplace.
The next thing is that you need different ASINs if you sell variations of your product. If this in case, you will need a parent ASIN for your initial product and different child ASINs for all your variations.
For example, suppose you sell a T-shirt in different sizes. You need an ASIN for the first product – the T-shirt – and further children’s ASINs for all variations, e.g. for a blue, yellow and pink shirt.
When You Don’t Need An Amazon ASIN…
If you want to sell a product that’s already on the Amazon marketplace, you don’t need to register a new ASIN because every product that’s sold on Amazon already has one.
If this is the case, you only need to research the ASIN. If you don’t know how to find the ASIN of a product, read on, I will explain in the next chapter how to do this.
However, if you’re a new seller and want to sell a brand new product on Amazon, you’ve to register a new ASIN for that product.
What you need to know is that there’s a limit for new sellers on how many new ASINs they can create. If you want to create more ASINs in the near future, you need to sell more products and increase your sales on Amazon.
I highly recommend checking out this site to find out more about Amazon’s restrictions on the creation of new ASINs.
How To Search For A Product’s ASIN
Looking for a product’s ASIN on Amazon is super easy. All you have to do is to search for the product on Amazon.
Then, navigate to the product detail page and scroll to the end of the page.
You will find the ASIN of the product at the end of the listing with the product information.
But there’s another opportunity to get a product’s ASIN even faster. What you can also do is to take a look at the URL entry of your browser:
The ASIN is usually at the end of the URL of the product page. Just make sure that there’s no referral code and you’re good to go.
How To Get A New ASIN
If you’re starting as a private label seller, you will probably sell a product that nobody else sells on Amazon.
If this in case, you need to create a new Amazon ASIN so that Amazon can identify your product.
But you only need to do that if you sell a unique product under your own private label brand.
If the product you want to sell is already on Amazon, you don’t have to create a new ASIN.
Here’s how to create a new ASIN for your product on your own:
First of all, you need a GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) for your product.
What is a GTIN?
Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) can be used by a company to uniquely identify all of its trade items. GS1 defines trade items as products or services that are priced, ordered or invoiced at any point in the supply chain.
Where do you get a GTIN?
You can get it from the GS1. The GS1 is a worldwide organization which distributes GTINs, UPCs or ISBNs.
There are different packages and you should choose a package that isn’t too expensive but fully suits your needs.
There are a lot of online sellers that also sell GTINs. However, I highly recommend not to buy a GTIN from another seller than the GS1 since it will only make you problems in the future – trust me.
Once you have a GTIN for your product, it’s relatively easy to get an Amazon ASIN.
All you have to do is to head over to Amazon Seller Central and click on “Add a new product” and then on “Create a new product”.
Then, you’ve to upload your product’s GTIN and Amazon will automatically generate a new ASIN for your product.
It is necessary to have an ASIN to sell on Amazon. However, you only need to create a new ASIN if you want to sell a product on Amazon that does not exist yet.
Anyway, taking care of the ASIN is only an administrative task. Focus more on increasing your sales to succeed in the long run.
About the Author
Moritz Bauer has over 5 years of experience in eCommerce and Marketing. On his blog smartminded he writes about Amazon FBA.
How to choose an accounting firm for your business?
Tax laws undergo changes and additions every year. All these changes tend to confuse businesses, trying to find what each change means for them. It is the role of accountant firms to keep track of all these changes in the tax laws. And thus, rescue businesses from getting trapped in financial hassles and tax liabilities. Accounting firms expertise in managing day to day accounts and advising companies on complex financial matters.
If you are starting your own business, you must be considering consulting an accountant firm for your finances. You don’t know when you’ll need them, and it is totally normal. Right now, you’re focused on transforming your idea into a settled business. And while you do that, we’ll take you through some essential tips on how to choose an accounting firm for your business.
Experience in the field
Several people have CPA credentials and can perform an audit for your business. But the critical factor is who has worked in your specific industry. A person or a firm which has dedicated years in handling nuances of your sector knows what will work best for you. They will be able to offer solutions for your problems more quickly and thus, manage your finances better. A sector like technology has companies with massive and complex accounting structure and investors having high expectations. A knowledgeable company should also be able to help you with business proforma, but don’t expect them to just include the service for free. Pro forma business analysis goes hand in hand with accounting services.
Similarly, some accounting firms have thorough expertise in the audit. But your company requires immediate assistance in taxation. Hence, it is essential to talk to the CPA about their proficiency in your sector and knowledge in different tax laws.
How much do they charge?
A fee is a vital aspect to consider when hiring an accounting firm. It is obvious that different firms charge differently. Large firms, like Deloitte, will charge massive numerations in comparison to a boutique accounting firm in your city. The fees also depend on the kind of assignment they are getting. There are firms which set special rates for every task while others offer a full year service and charge for the same. The prices per job depend on the task they get like preparing profit and loss statement, personal income tax filing or collecting a statement of net worth.
Some accountants write bills on hourly services. If that is the case, then you need to know the standard hourly rates and if these rates change often.
How important is the location?
Before the dawn of technology, having an accountant near me was important. But now, the boundaries of communication and collaboration have shrunk significantly. As technology advances, working with firms abroad through cloud-based technology is just as simple and effective as working face-to-face. There are cloud accounting features that allow you and your accountant to work on your finances and taxations using real-time data. It diminishes the confinement of location and thus, allows better search of services for your needs.
But the decision still lies in your hands. Your decision will be based on your finances and how to handle them. Honestly, while technology allows collaboration through the internet, there are certain situations which require face-to-face intervention.
Opt for a certified or chartered accountant
Several countries have governing bodies that check qualifications and maintain high accounting standards. In different countries, accountants are known with different names like Certified Public Accountants or Chartered Accountants. CPAs or CAs are highly qualified individuals who have completed degree-level studies with professional internship programs.
Hiring a certified or chartered account makes sure you get the right service and financial advice. Their qualification adds value to your business. It means to make sure your company grows from the word “Go!” you must hire a professional accounting firm from the start. Several tax preparation firms employ and train preparers to help clients through income tax filing. But when it comes to catering to more significant accounting needs, you’ll be better off with firms employing CPAs.
Can they grow with you?
When you invest in a business, you make it clear that you’re ready to enter the big leagues and with zest. To make this happen without any glitches, you need to have a CPA firm that has the human resources and expertise. Your CPA must stick with you to see you grow from a start-up to IPO or exit phase. There are countless things to consider: does the firm have the expertise to stick with you, does it has the staff for the job, or they are facing their acquisition? If any of this is true, you’ll have to go through the whole process of finding a new firm once again.
It might fine at the moment when you’re working with an accountant for small business. But once you start growing, you can’t waste time on finding a new CPA when you should be focusing on your business.
The team assigned to you
When you hire a firm to do an audit, you are buying the communication style of the team undertaking the service. An experienced team doing the audit will save you resources when they utilize their expertise and tools at hand. You need to ask the firm questions on who will be handling your case and if they will be a part of the meeting. Ask them about their previous experiences with other clients and how the following team works on-field. You must be sure that the team you are assigned is the best one.
Converse with government and business entities
Several countries stress on small businesses since they boost a significant share of their economies. To help small businesses grow, the government rolls out plans, packages, and assistance. If you are a small business owner, you can use this assistance and network of business entities to get an accountant.
Whichever accounting firm you choose for your business, remember that they will have access to your sensitive data. So, do your research and take your time to finalize one. Talk with your fellow business associates to get a picture of how accountant firms deal with clients. And since you have the power of the internet in your hand, use social media to dig in deeper. Trust is key!
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