As a business owner, getting into a legal dispute over your company’s name, or any other issue related to your brand, may cost you an arm and a leg. Even worse, it can also ruin your reputation.
That’s why you need to trademark your business name to protect your business from any naming or branding disputes while still making sure that your business stands out.
A trademark that has been registered with an official public institution is a registered trademark. This registration protects the brand from counterfeiting or being used in a way that does not comply with the creator’s wishes.
In this article, we will explain what a trademark is, the benefits of trademarking your business name, and the procedure to legally do it. Here are the key points that we’ll cover:
What Is a Trademark?
According to the United States, Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a trademark is “a word, phrase, symbol and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of one party’s goods from those of others.”
The trademark enables your customers to set you apart from your competitors and represents your identity. A trademark identifies the source or services of your products. It also protects your products from fraud, counterfeiting, and legal disputes.
What Are The Different Types of Trademarks?
There are four main types of trademarks:
- Service marks: Service marks and trademarks are very similar, but there are some differences between them. A service mark can be a logo, phrase, graphic, name, or other distinctive sign that identifies your business as a service provider distinct from other businesses. A service mark is used by a business that offers services, such as finance, hospitality, plumbing, etc. A familiar example of a service mark is Airbnb. The company name “Airbnb,” the slogan “Belong Anywhere,” and the logo are service marks. This is because Airbnb provides a service: accommodation, mainly vacation rentals, and tourist activities through online reservations.
- Certification marks: Certification marks are used to prove to consumers that particular services or products, or their suppliers, have met specific standards (health, environmental, etc.) Parental Advisory emblems are certification mark that warns parents of vulgar or inappropriate content in music. Another example of a certification mark is Cognac, which refers to a brandy made in a particular region of France.
- Collective marks: They allow members of a collective to indicate their adherence to a group. They are also used to identify the products and services of members from non-members. An example of a collective mark is the letters AAA® inside an oval to indicate membership in the American Automobile Association.
- Trademarks: They are used for companies that sell goods. Whether you’re a sports fan or not, chances are you’ve heard or read “Just do it.” This three-word phrase is the tagline of Nike. This tagline and the black Nike swoosh are examples of trademarks because Nike is a company that sells sportswear.
What Are The Different Steps to Follow to Trademark Your Business Name?
The trademark application process is a four-step process. However, it may take six months or more for the entire approval process to be ready. The basic application may cost you about $250, but the total fee can be much higher, especially if you decide to involve a lawyer in the process.
The application process does not necessarily guarantee that you will get your business name trademarked. Trademark applications are subject to a rigorous and thorough examination procedure. Also, if your application is rejected, you won’t be reimbursed for the application fee. Here’s how to get started.
1– Decide If Trademarking Your Business Name Is Right For You
First, find out if a trademark is appropriate for you based off of the type of business you have. If you want to protect your brand’s name, then looking for a trademark is definitely what you need. However, if you are looking to protect a project or an invention, it is advisable to opt for patent or copyright protection instead.
The use of a business name by a company automatically provides it with some trademark protection generally when the company can prove that it is the first to use the name in the specific industry.
In addition, in the event of theft, misuse, or usurpation of a name, a federated trademark infringement action is only possible if the company has registered a trademark.
2– Find Existing Trademarked Business Names
It is highly recommended to carry out a preliminary search in the Patent Office’s electronic trademark search system to find existing trademarks similar to the desired name or trademark.
This search lets you ensure that your business name has not already been trademarked or is not simply used in your line of business. The search must be performed before filing the trademark application, as the USPTO will reject your application if it is likely to be confused with an existing trademark.
3- Getting Your Trademark Application Ready
Preparing the application requires quite a bit of effort and time. Ensure that your application is complete and check that your chosen name or slogan is not already taken.
Preparing an application requires the following information:
- The entity’s personal data (name, address, line of business, etc.) that files the trademark. Speaking of entities, they can be an individual or a company. In addition, entities that live outside of the United States will be required to hire an attorney to finalize the application process.
Also known as a “standard character mark,” it represents the element you wish to protect. Your company’s name can be registered as it appears in a style, color, or unique mark of your own.
- Product(s) or service(s) that the business will represent
In the application, you should describe your product or service and identify the class to which it belongs. Although it is possible to register your trademark in more than one class, this comes with some additional fees.
To find your class, you should refer to the USPTO’s Trademark Identification Manual online. If there is a description of your product, copy it exactly as it is written in the “description” of your search results. If there is no description of your product, you will need to write your own description.
Your application must include the date and your signature
4- Submitting the Application
You have two options for submitting your electronic trademark application: the first option is the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). Within that, there is TEAS Standard and TEAS Plus.
TEAS Plus offers a more affordable filing option but is not for everyone. When describing your product or service, if you used the standard description in the Trademark ID manual, you can use TEAS Plus. However, you will use the standard TEAS application if you have written your own description. This filing option is a bit more expensive.
Once the application is submitted, you will receive a filing receipt with a serial number. The application will then be sent to a government patent attorney to review your application. After examining your application, you will receive a letter called “office action” if any discrepancies are found.
Usually, you have six months to clarify any questions or problems. Otherwise, the application expires. If the USPTO approves your application, your trademark will be published online in a journal to allow anyone to appeal. The publication can last up to 3 months. If no one opposes your trademark, then it will be registered. However, if the trademark is opposed, hiring a lawyer to defend it and pursue the procedure would be necessary.
What Are The Benefits of Trademarking Your Business Name?
Registering a trademark gives you an exclusive right to use it and protects your brand. Here are some of the benefits of trademarking your business name.
1- Exclusive Rights And Ownership
Trademarking your business name allows you to “own” your company’s unique brand and have an exclusive right to use the registered name or logo. It also allows you to use your brand for commercial purposes. It can also be used as a valuable marketing tool to compete with your competitors.
2- Trademark Your Business Name Helps You Grow Your Business
A registered trademark is proof of the reliability, value, and reputation your company has built. Customers who are likely to pay a high price for your services or products will have to be sure that your company is trustworthy before buying what you offer them. Getting your business name trademarked is what gives your business the trustworthiness and reputation it needs. Furthermore, if you plan to expand your business through a franchise, your franchisees can legitimately use your name or logo with a registered trademark.
3- Avoid Counterfeiting Claims
A successful registration indicates the uniqueness of your trademark. This significantly reduces the risk of infringement of someone else’s registered mark. You will not have to worry about fighting infringement claims once the trademark is registered.
4- Prevent Competitors From Imitating Your Brand
The success of a business can attract people who will want to imitate you and try to take advantage of your reputation in the market. These people can imitate your logos, names and deceive your customers into thinking they are buying a product or service associated with your brand.
Trademarking your business name will prevent others from registering a brand similar to yours. Moreover, you can sue any person or company for infringement of intellectual property rights.
Price And Application Length
Other than legal fees, filing a trademark for your business name with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) costs between $225 and $600. The process takes approximately 12 to 18 months to complete due to the fact that the application goes through several stages. Also, keep in mind that there is no guarantee that trademarking your business name will be successful. The application may be rejected for various legal reasons.
Alternatives to Trademarks
In the event that trademarking your business name fails, there are other ways to protect your business name. You can register as a limited liability company or corporation in your state. This will prevent any other company from trademarking your business name.
Trademarking Your Business Name Is Good, But Not Enough
Once you have your business name trademarked and have completed all the steps you need to open your business, it is time to think about technology tools that can help you grow your business, such as managing your inventory and collecting personal data from your customers to revamp your marketing strategies. KORONA POS is the tool you need to scale your business. Our retail POS system is designed for any business of any size and provides you with sales reporting, inventory management, employee permissions, payment terminals, and the list goes on. Try KORONA POS for free to find out the rest of the crucial features for your business’s success.
Conclusion on How to Trademark Your Business Name: What to Take Away?
To trademark a business name can be time-consuming and quite costly. Also, the procedure may not be successful. Therefore, it is advisable to get ready for all contingencies and do thorough research before filling out the online application form. However, the successful completion of this application gives your company more authority and opens more opportunities to grow.