When you postpone getting a trademark, you risk complete rebranding,” says Emma Fuchsova from Trama
Entrepreneurs who decide to legally protect their intellectual property and get a trademark often find themselves in a tangle of legal jargon that seems like a minefield. Some choose to seek out the help of a lawyer, and some turn to an online service like Trama. If you schedule a consultation with Trama’s customer support, chances are you’ll get to talk to Emma Fuchsova, who helps clients navigate the several months long process of registering a trademark. In this interview, Emma shares the behind-the-scenes information from Trama’s support and explains when a problematic case might still be saved.
Please introduce us to what Trama’s support team does.
Our team mainly offers support with any trademark-related questions. Some of them are related to the process – the length, pricing, how long the certificate is valid for, things like that. So the range of the questions is pretty broad. But in general, anything regarding trademarks is something we can help with. In each case, however, we do try our best to truly understand the situation of the individual client and offer the best advice regarding their specific need and circumstances.
What would you say clients ask you the most?
Our customers ask mainly about the risk associated with the registration. We offer a free lawyer’s check, which our legal team does to make sure that the trademark is actually registrable. So once the client receives the result and goes through it, sometimes they’re unsure whether it’s a good idea to proceed with the registration. It’s, for example, quite common to find similar trademarks registered prior to our client’s request. So it’s good to go through the result together and explain what might happen and what are the chances of a successful registration.
For that, we offer free consultations, which I usually cover, so if you schedule one, I am the person you’ll most likely talk to. I am also staying in touch with our clients afterwards in case there are any follow-ups on our conversation or any future requests.
And if there’s a risk, is there even something the person can do about it? What do you usually recommend?
That depends on the type of risk. For example, if we find your word trademark can be potentially labelled as too descriptive, which constitutes grounds for dismissal, we usually recommend adding a logo. This can increase the uniqueness of your brand and, therefore, your chances of success.
But if we, for example, find brands similar to yours, it can get tricky. We can analyze the competitors’ brands to see whether they are your direct competitors, which the intellectual property office will look into before making a decision. But our results are usually not black or white as we cannot predict the actual outcome with 100 % certainty. For example, you never know if your competition will decide to come forward and oppose your applications. So, in this case, it’s ultimately up to the client if they want to proceed, but we at least prepare them for what might come so they can make their choice confidently.
And sometimes, sadly, the chances of success are so slim that we can only recommend a complete rebranding.
Since Trama offers legal services online, do you ever feel customers proceed more cautiously before they make sure they can trust you?
They sometimes do, which is natural. It’s an online business where you can’t see the lawyer, you can’t even see me face to face. This sometimes leads to a sort of wariness or confusion. I think it’s really good that we have our Trustpilot, where people can read our reviews. From time to time, I suggest looking at the trademarks we have already registered since this information is publicly available and helps instil a certain level of trust needed for a more productive collaboration.
And does this help? Does it ease their worry?
It does. Sometimes it’s enough to just talk to our clients and explain what we do. They usually don’t need to see the trademarks in our portfolio or read the reviews. They really just want to talk to a real human being and make sure that we know what we are doing.
Trademark law is probably not something your average customer is very versed in. Does this create problems when you’re explaining legal options to your clients?
I don’t think so. I think you can explain things clearly and in a way that even a person not coming from the legal field can understand, and I try to do that. We always make sure clients understand what options they have, what the next steps will be, the risks associated with their request, etc.
When you started at Trama, how long did it take you to learn enough about trademarks so that you could be helpful to your customers?
It was really difficult in the beginning because when I joined, there were only seven people in Trama. We didn’t have handbooks or manuals to help me speed up the process of learning. So I had to learn through many different channels. I would say it took me a couple of weeks to get into it. We have now improved the processes so that our new colleagues can learn and act much faster and more independently.
Trama is currently registering over 500 trademarks monthly, a steep incline considering it was established only in 2020. Since you have been with the company almost from the start, how do you reflect on the growth you witnessed?
I think it’s crazy when I look back. Everything was different back then, there were only two of us doing support and sales, and I had to cover all our channels. So I answered on chat, picked up the phone, and responded to emails. Today we have more team members and can divide the work better.
And when you look back at how you did your job then, are you doing anything differently now?
When you talk to your customers daily, you learn a lot about people and how to communicate effectively. For example, now I make sure not to overload them with too much information. Because I understand that this is a complex field, and sometimes it may be too much to process at once. So I stick to the basics. I can always send the client a follow-up via email so they can look at it later.
As Trama grows, the number of requests you receive must also grow. So how do you scale the support department to cover everything?
Having more people helps, of course, but it doesn’t end there. We try to set up different processes that help us become more efficient in our work. I mentioned, for example, the documents we’ve put together so we can onboard new people faster.
But I’d like to point out that I believe you shouldn’t focus solely on growth if it means compromising on quality. We make sure that not only is the company growing but also that people get the same level of satisfaction with our services that they got when we first started out and only handled a couple of requests.
Lastly, do you have a word of advice for budding entrepreneurs interested in protecting their brand?
I would say trademark your brand as soon as possible. Because if you find out that there’s an identical brand out there, you can still rebrand. But once you’ve started your business and grown quite a lot, it might be really difficult to rebrand and start all over again. Plus, it’s also financially challenging. So I think the sooner, the better.