If you have a company or are thinking of starting one, you need a form of protection, known as a trademark, for the business’ logo, name, design, symbol, or phrase. If the concept is still new to you, here’re five important things you need to know about how to trademark your business.
Trademark registration is different from business name registration
If you’re starting a new company, you have to register the trade name you choose for your business with the government. The name will be used to identify your business, not any service or product. Conversely, trademark registration is all about the branding that is associated with services or products.
Therefore, you are legally obligated to register a business name. However, the purpose of registering a trademark is to prevent other people or entities, such as your competitors, from duplicating the feel or look of your products and services.
Just remember that you can use a registered business name as an unregistered trademark just to brand your business and sell your products and services. On the other hand, you cannot rely on a registered trademark alone to identify your business legally.
The process is simple
As a U.S. resident, registering a trademark is relatively easy. All you need to do is file an application with the United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO). Although you can handle the process on your own, you should always consider having a business formation lawyer by your side to ensure your application goes smoothly and quickly. They’ll help you understand the trademark rights and other things pertaining to the trademarking process.
Of course, you have to gather important business information, such as the specific mark you want to protect, the type of services or products associated with it, the business type, and its owner for the application. Besides the owner’s name, you need to provide their address and citizenship status. You also need to have the phrase, word, or mark that you want to trademark. Once you file your application, the USPTO will take up to three months to complete the initial review.
How much you should expect to pay
The first thing you need to determine is whether you are going to work with an attorney. If so, you should expect to pay between $800 and $3,000. After that decide the kind of application you’re going to use. If you are using a TEAS (Trademark Electronic Application System) Plus, you’ll have to pay $225 per category of products and services. If you’re using the TEAS Standard application, you’ll pay $275.
The selected business name can impact the strength of your protection
As you may know already, how strong your trademark protection is may depend on the name you choose. Actually, your trademark application may fail if the name is too generic. The names that receive the strongest trademark protection are those you might describe as “fanciful,” such as Xerox, or the common words referring to an unrelated product such as “Total” or “Apple.” The suggestive names that often imply the qualities of a product, such as “Under Armour,” without necessarily naming the product are also great. As you select the name you want to register, choose something that’s likely to be eligible for the protection.
You need to do a trademark search beforehand
As many successful business owners will tell you, it’s not uncommon to go through the whole process of selecting a business name, start off your operations, make sales, but then receive a letter from another company’s legal department telling you that you’re infringing on their trademarks.
The problem is changing your business’ name and the process of rebranding is time-consuming and very expensive. Thankfully, you can avoid the costly process of rebranding or legal action by conducting a thorough trademark search before naming your business. That will help you find out whether the name you’ve chosen might infringe upon the trademark of another company. You can use the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to search the USPTO’s database.
Do you want to trademark your business without making any mistakes? If the answer is yes, then I believe the information above will help you achieve that pretty effortlessly. Just remember that trademarking your business will help you build your brand reputation and provide you with exclusive rights.