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LEGAL ISSUES

My Crisis of Conscience

The Trademark Company CEO Matthew Swyers went from being a legal mercenary to a warrior defending the trademarks of small businesses.
Man in the Mirror: Lawyer Matthew Swyers reveals that he started to hate who he had become.

Man in the Mirror: Lawyer Matthew Swyers reveals that he started to hate who he had become.

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There’s a scene in the movie Pretty Woman where the corporate raider played by Richard Gere, Edward Lewis, has an epiphany about his life. He quips, to the effect, we never build anything anymore. In this moment Edward realizes that his life has been about tearing things apart, not building things up.
 
Although my epiphany was not as well defined, it was very similar to Edward’s in the blockbuster movie. I began my career as a trial attorney in the greater Washington, D.C. area. For years I was a lawyer paid to fight on behalf of clients, paid to figure out ways to beat the other side at all costs. I wasn’t part of a team tasked with creating great things. Rather, I was a mercenary for hire fighting for whatever side paid the bills. Well, something had to change. I had to change.
 
Initially I took a job with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to transition away from trial work and gain experience in trademark law. While at the USPTO I witnessed an interesting phenomena, a need if you will that had to be filled.  On one hand there were small and medium-sized businesses out there that needed help. Not only in understanding the often complex process of receiving a trademark registration, but also in defending oftentimes frivolous lawsuits and actions from existing trademark holders. On the other hand, there were the experienced law firms that, for the most part, were simply too costly for the average small to medium-sized business to afford. Who could help these small businesses?

So we asked two simple questions: Can we create a company that provides the same quality of legal services as major law firms at a fraction of the price? Can we infuse a customer-serviced focus boarding on fanaticism into an industry longing for customer service?
 
In 2003 we began constructing the models and systems which would allow us to answer these questions in the affirmative. Years in the making the systems are now in place and the dream is being realized. 
 
Today we represent thousands of customers on six of seven continents (No clients from Antarctica yet, go figure).  For two consecutive years we have been recognized by the Inc. 500 as one of the fastest growing private companies in America, are the number three trademark filer in the world and recognized as one of the Top Trademark Firms by Intellectual Property Today, all while maintaining an A+ rating with the Better business Bureau.
 
Most importantly we are true to our original vision, a vision which has guided us along our journey. As Edward in Pretty Woman realized it’s about building businesses. And that is what we do, our passion: protecting our clients' trademarks so they can build their dreams.

Last updated: Dec 5, 2011

MATTHEW SWYERS | Columnist | Founder, The Trademark Company

Matthew Swyers is the founder of The Trademark Company, a Web-based law firm specializing in protecting the trademark rights of small to medium-size businesses. The company is ranked No. 138 on the 2011 Inc. 500.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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