Registering and trademarking your brand name is the first step in protecting the intellectual property of your company. A step-by-step tutorial for registering a trademark with the USPTO is provided here.
- Your brand name may be registered as a trademark in three easy steps.
- To prevent unauthorized use of your intellectual property, you may register your brand name with the USPTO.
- Although it could help your brand, obtaining a trademark is not immediately mandatory.
- This article is for small company owners considering trademarking and registering their brand names or who are ready to do so.
A significant step that can help you safeguard your brand identification against infringement or abuse is registering a trademark for your business. It just takes a few simple steps to register a trademark. The procedure is quite simple.
In addition to answering some commonly asked questions concerning trademark registration, this guide will lead you through each process required to register and trademark your business name.
Describe a trademark.
A trademark is “a term, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and differentiates the source of the products of one party from those of the others,” according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It’s a legal safeguard that you may utilize to sue a company if they misrepresent your brand or use it without your permission.
A concept or technique may be protected by a patent, not by a trademark. Without the consent of the patent holder, anything cannot be utilized in the goods or services of another organization. A trademark differs from a copyright, which solely covers creative works, in another way. Without the copyright holder’s consent, other parties may not reproduce the work or use it for commercial purposes. This is referred to as copyright infringement.
How to register your business name as a trademark
It may take longer than you expect to trademark the name of your firm since the process is more complicated than registering an LLC.
To make sure the name you wish to trademark isn’t already protected as a trademark, you must first do a check of the federal database. The Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS, of the USPTO may help you with this. You should look for related names in addition to the one you desire. If the name is too close to one that has already been registered within the same class, your registration can be rejected.
Even while it seems simple, it may be difficult. For instance, Iguana Ice Cream and Iguana’s Ice Cream can be too similar. It may also signify that a registered trademark merely resembles your mark in terms of appearance, sound, or similarity of meaning.
When the name you wish to trademark has been thoroughly investigated and approved, it is time to create your trademark application. You may register a name that is currently in use in commerce or that you intend to use in the future.
There are 10 parts to a trademark application:
- Address and name of the applicant
- The applicant’s nationality and legal status
- Name and contact information for potential communication (this does not have to be the same as the name of the applicant)
- a sketch of the intended mark (if you just want to register the name and don’t want to submit a design element, just write the name in instead)
- a detailed explanation of the mark
- a detailed description of the products or services that the trademark application covers
- the group of products or services
- An illustration of the trademark in use, along with the time it originally appeared
- a dated signature from you or a representative with authority
- The right amount of money in relation to the kind and number of courses listed on the application
Two filing choices are available to you when you have finished the application: TEAS Plus and TEAS Standard. The Plus option has a lower rejection rate, is less costly, and is more efficient. However, the risk associated with the Standard option may be more advantageous for your circumstance if you need to construct a unique description of your products or services that is not there in the predefined list Plus offers.
The USPTO will send you a confirmation receipt once you’ve filed your application, along with a serial number you can use to monitor the status of your application in the Trademark Status & Document Retrieval (TSDR) site.
FAQs on trademarks
What distinguishes a trade name from a trademark or service mark?
A service mark protects services just like a trademark does for commodities. However, both kinds of markings are sometimes referred to as trademarks. Both are intended to restrict rivals’ capacity to deceive customers about the provenance of a product or service.
The formal business name is substituted with a trade name. Doing business as is a common way to express this on documents (DBA). When a company name is deemed too long or when a desired name is too similar to one that already has a trademark or service mark, it is utilized. (Take note that a trade name does not identify the party legally liable for the service or item.)
What kinds of trademarks are there?
Four different kinds of trademarks exist:
- A descriptive mark identifies two or more components of an item or service.
- A suggestive symbol, like the Target logo, suggests a message rather than saying it explicitly.
- A whimsical mark is a word, phrase, or symbol that is unique from all others, like Sony.
- A term, phrase, or logo from common language that is utilized in a distinctive manner for a company is known as an arbitrary mark. The hybrid smile-arrow logo for Amazon is a prime example.
Should your business name be trademarked?
To get rights to use your mark, you do not need to register it. In the United States, using a mark in the course of doing business gives you “common-law rights” to it. This indicates that you may start utilizing it and prove that you were the first to utilize it for profit in order to assert your ownership of it. There are restrictions on your rights while using a common-law trademark, however.
Numerous benefits come with federal trademark registration. Most significantly, it grants you exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with the products or services you indicated during registration everywhere in the country. Common-law rights are restricted to the local geographic region in which you are doing business, and registering the name with your state only safeguards your rights within the state’s boundaries.
Your ownership of the mark will be publicly acknowledged when you register it with the USPTO, and it will be included in the online database. If you have a federally registered trademark, you may also choose to register it with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent similar-sounding foreign products from being brought into the country. Additionally, you will be permitted to use the federal symbol (®) rather than the less reliable (TM) mark.
The primary method you advertise your business to the public is by using its name. Imagine someone else making offers that are inconsistent with the goals and core principles of your company by using the name of your company. You need a trademark to provide your company the best possible legal defense.
There is just one classification covered by a trademark application. The application must specify each new categorization, and there will be a fee. To be taken into account are 45 classifications. For instance, you would need a Class 12 trademark if your company manufactures automobiles. You would also require a Class 25 trademark if you intended to sell apparel that had the name of the same business on it. To decide which class or classes you should place the name under, take into account precisely how you will be utilizing it.
Who should register a company name as a trademark?
As long as your company’s name is distinctive and doesn’t sound too much like another name that has previously been given a trademark, you may register it. For instance, a name like The Ice Cream Shop is unlikely to qualify for a trademark if it is too ambiguous. Since Iguana Ice Cream combines two familiar terms in a distinctive manner, it is more likely to be granted a trademark.
The region you will be servicing geographically should also be taken into account. By using the name, you instantly get common-law trademark protection, but it’s only valid in your local vicinity. You should absolutely submit an application for a trademark to safeguard your company if it provides services to many different states.
You could wish to trademark them as well if your company has numerous product lines with distinctive names. For instance, Ford is a trademark of the Ford Motor Company, along with trademarks for the F-150, Mustang, Ranger, and Explorer car lines.
Should I create an LLC or a trademark first?
Whether you should create an LLC or a trademark first primarily depends on the objectives of your firm
A private limited corporation is referred to as a limited liability company (LLC) inside the United States of America. Although you may get an LLC from any state, it is typically granted by the state where the business is located. While trademark applications typically take three months to complete, LLC registrations often take less than a day.
It makes logical to create the LLC initially if you want to start doing business right away. Applying for the trademark first makes more sense if you have lots of lead time and want to protect your federal rights to the name before using it publicly out of concern that it could be appropriated by another party.
Does your company need an immediate trademark registration?
You are not need to file a trademark application straight immediately for your company.
When registering a mark, you often need to be able to demonstrate “use in commerce,” which means you had to be able to establish that it was being used before you could do so. The alternative is to submit an intent-to-use (ITU) trademark application.
If you want to continue with an ITU trademark, you will still need to show that you have been using the mark in commerce by submitting the required paperwork and making the necessary payments on time before the mark is registered
You may only assert usage in trade at one of three times:
- Prior to publication permission
- Within six months following the notice of allowance’s (NOA) issuing
- within an extension’s permitted timeframe
There are various techniques to prove usage in business, including the following:
- Putting the mark on the items you sell or the website where you sell them
- Using the logo in connection with the sale of services
Under federal law, there are three categories of commerce:
- Foreign commerce
There is no purpose to apply for the trademark first if your company can’t yet demonstrate that you are using the mark in commerce or if you won’t be able to do so within the parameters of the ICU procedure.
Do I need to register a trademark if I register a company name?
A company name is normally registered at the state level and is not federally protected. There is no point to file for a trademark if you are only planning to provide services or goods inside that state. However, you would need to file for a trademark if you are providing goods and services in many states and want federal protection for the name of your company.
How do you determine whether a mark is already protected by another party?
TESS makes it simple to do numerous types of searches on the federal trademark database. You may look for names, words, and phrases that have been granted a federal trademark using the “basic word mark search” feature.
The “word and/or design mark search” feature enables you to do a database search using either a design, words, or a combination of the two. To perform this efficiently, you’ll probably need to be familiar with the design standards.
You may also choose to explore the database’s directory or specific fields. You may search by registration or publication date if you have a basic idea of what could have been trademarked but are unsure.
How long is your registration good for once it is approved?
The duration of a trademark registration depends on your commitment to upkeep. As long as a trademark is still being used for the intended use after it has been registered, it does not lose its validity.
A trademark grants you the right to use a term, phrase, or picture to identify the products or services named in the registration; it does not give you ownership of the word, phrase, or image.
Nevertheless, using it is insufficient. Between the fifth and sixth anniversaries of the registration, you must file a Section 8 declaration with the USPTO to demonstrate that the trademark has continued to be used. This is a straightforward oath.
Actual evidence is needed on the tenth anniversary of the registration. This might be a representation of your product or service with the trademark. Every ten years, you must do this.
Should you use a trademark lawyer?
Your decision to employ a trademark lawyer to help with your application may be heavily influenced by your financial situation. Meanwhile, the only research of its sort indicated that trademark lawyers’ applications had a 50% higher chance of being accepted. You must thus decide if it is worthwhile to pay an attorney to boost the likelihood that my application will be approved. The choice is entirely up to you.
Choosing whether to use a trademark
I suppose that is the question. If you are concerned about someone using your brand unjustly or without your consent, trademarking it is a terrific idea. Additionally, if you’re planning to operate in multiple states, it’s fantastic. However, registering a trademark may be a drawn-out procedure and is never really necessary—it only provides additional protection. However, such protection might imply that your company is legitimate, which is a terrific method to gain clients’ confidence.