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Handbag maker should've trademarked her name

Sarah Shaw laments giving away her own name by letting her investors file the trademark papers. She says she should've done it herself and licensed it to the corporation.

April 19, 2011|By Sharon Bernstein, Los Angeles Times

Consultants, self-help gurus and moms agree: Mistakes are how we learn. Small-business owners tell us their biggest error. Here is this week's:

Business owner: Sarah Shaw

Companies: Sarah Shaw Handbags, Entreprenette

What I Did: Gave away my own name

Background: I'm a consultant, and I teach women how to market tangible products.

The Mistake: I had a handbag company, and about two years in I brought in investors. I had never trademarked my name, Sarah Shaw, so they had the attorney file the trademark for Sarah Shaw Handbags. Later, the company went under, and the trademark died with the company. I contacted my ex-business partner and asked if it would be OK to use my name and was told, "If you use your name, we will sue you."

What I learned: I should have trademarked the name personally and licensed it to the corporation.

Have you made a mistake from which other small-business owners can learn? Please tell us about it at

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