Best Way to Trademark Your business Name – Brief Overview
Trademarking your business name will distinguish your company’s products or services from those of its competitors. It is a valuable asset for any business, as it establishes brand recognition and trust among your consumer bases.
Small businesses, an individual founding a new business, or an established enterprise all understand the importance of brand identity. Small business owners and CEOs alike understand how valuable this can be. Let’s begin with a brief overview of the best way to trademark your business name.
- Does Your Business Need A Trademark?
- Best Way On How To Trademark My Business Name
- Step 1: Search For Existing Trademarks
- Step 2: File A Trademark Application
- Step 3: Maintain Your Trademark Over Time
- What Happens After You File Your Application?
- Reasons A Trademark Application Can Be Rejected
- Responding To Trademark Office Actions (Oa)
- What Is The Difference Between A Trade Name, Trademark And Service Mark?
- Take Legal Action Against Trademark Infringement
- Short Video About This Blog
Does Your Business Need a Trademark?
There are several factors to consider when determining whether your business needs a trademark. The nature of your business, the products, and services that you offer, and your long-term goals are all relevant considerations.
The first step to protect your brand is to file for protection for your business name or business names. A standard character mark is applicable for a name, and an illustration is applicable for a logo filing. Having a registered mark for trademark names will help distinguish your products or services from those of your competitors. It will also prevent others from using similar marks that could cause confusion among consumers.
By registering a desired name for your business, you will distinguish yourself as a unique entity. With a unique mark, you can build brand recognition and establish a reputation for quality and reliability.
If you plan to expand your business, registering a brand name will help ensure that you have exclusive rights when using your mark.
A trademark’s status can also be an asset when seeking investment or financing for your business. This demonstrates that you have taken steps to protect your intellectual property. Trademark protection is what you need to acquire to protect your business name.
Best Way On How to Trademark My Business Name
The best way on how to trademark your business name is to obtain a federal trademark. There are common misconceptions regarding how to trademark a brand name, specifically pertaining to common law rights. A common law trademark is not enforceable. Registered trademarks have legal protection (e.g., trademark protection) from a federal court.
As such, you must get a trademark from the federal government. You must officially register a trademark with the USPTO to acquire legal ownership over the name of your unique business or legal entity.
There are many paths you can choose from when determining how to trademark your business name. The general public might find the trademark application process complicated. For some people, navigating an initial application can be intimidating. However, we find this to be the most efficient way to protect a business name via trademark law.
Once you have determined that you will proceed with an application, you will need to conduct an initial trademark search.
If you need assistance, we offer a free consultation. Please reach out to us to learn more on how to trademark your brand name.
Step 1: Search for Existing Trademarks
To conduct a trademark search, you can use the online database called the “Trademark Electronic Search System” (TESS). The TESS will allow you to search for any current trademarks that might be similar to yours. However, this is a preliminary, basic search.
If you need a comprehensive search, we suggest hiring an attorney. They will be able to conduct a more thorough search utilizing a variety of databases and ensure that your desired mark is available for use.
Why conducting a trademark search is important before filing
A trademark search is an important first step because it will ensure the intended mark is available for use and registration. Skipping an initial search could result in a rejection of your application. You can face legal action for infringement if the mark is already in use.
A thorough search can help you detect potential conflicts and make an informed decision before pursuing your desired mark. Conducting a search can also keep you from wasting time and money building a brand around a mark that you can’t protect. Clients frequently request that attorneys “trademark my brand name,” only to later state that “someone trademarked my business name” after a belated search. Avoid these issues by conducting your search early on.
Steps on How to trademark Search
To search for an existing trademark, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. Then look for the name called Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). Below are the steps to conduct a basic search:
1. Visit the USPTO website. (www.uspto.gov)
2. Click on the word “Trademarks” at the top.
3. Select “Search Trademarks” from the page.
4. Then click on “Search our trademark database (TESS)” button.
5. Select a search option.
— Basic Word Mark Search (New User)
— Word and/or Design Mark Search (Structured)
— Word and/or Design Mark Search (Free Form)
6. Enter the word or phrase you want to search for in the “Search Term” field. Then click on “Submit Query”.
The search results will show any existing trademarks that match what search term or phrase you entered. Be sure to review each result to see if it is similar to your desired mark or word. Next, assess the various potential filing options.
Step 2: File a Trademark Application
Filing a trademark application is the next step to protect your brand and intellectual property. To begin, it is helpful to know which application you will need. There are several trademark applications available. Each one has its requirements and benefits, as well as their own respective trademark cost.
Different Trademark Application Processes
Because there are several variations in a trademark application, there are several variable application processes. Here’s a brief explanation of the most common types:
- One involves the Intent-to-Use (ITU) application. This application is relevant when commercial use of the applied-for mark has not begun, but you plan to use it in the near future. As you prepare to launch your business or product, filing an ITU application allows you to reserve your trademark rights.
- Another involves the Use-Based application. This is best when you have already started using the mark in commerce. You must provide evidence of the mark’s use on your products or services, such as photographs, labels, or promotional materials.
- Foreign applications are appropriate if you intend to use your mark in other countries. One such avenue is the USPTO’s foreign application Madrid Protocol system. This allows you to apply for protection in multiple countries with a single application.
- Amending an application to the Supplemental Register is appropriate if your mark is not yet distinctive. If the applicant demonstrates acquired distinctiveness, the application can move to the Principal Register after 5 years on the Supplemental Register. The Supplemental Register provides some protection, but does not confer all the benefits of registration on the Principal Register.
- A Certification Mark application is to indicate that goods and services meet certain standards or come from a particular geographic area. You can successfully register a certification mark application with the USPTO via its own distinct process.
Members of a group or organization can use the Collective Mark application to show their membership. This will set the goods and services apart from competing ones. Collective markings are also registrable with the USPTO, much like certification marks.
Now that you understand the various applications, the next step is initiating the trademark process.
File Your Trademark Application
It’s time to prepare and file your application with the USPTO. The trademark registration process involves providing information about your business and the mark itself. You will also need to provide detailed information on how you will use the goods or services.
To begin, visit the USPTO website and head over to the trademark section. Then choose to apply to register your trademark.
If you are unfamiliar with using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), here is more information.
After selecting the “apply to register your trademark” you can begin the application. This entire process starts by creating an account and paying the application fee. Then decide which application to begin with. Whether the TEAS standard or TEAS plus. The application fee will determine which application you choose.
Proceed with completing the application form by entering all the necessary information. It is easy for laymen to make unnecessary errors at this stage. We always recommend hiring an attorney to draft and file your applications for you.
Step 3: Maintain Your Trademark Over Time
Maintaining your registered trademark means taking steps to ensure that it remains valid and enforceable over time. This involves several important tasks, including:
- Filing periodic renewals: To maintain their validity, trademarks in the United States must undergo renewal every 10 years. You’ll need to file a renewal with the USPTO and pay the trademark registration fees to keep your trademark registration active.
- Monitoring for potential infringement: It’s important to monitor for potential infringing uses of your registration by other entities. This can involve conducting regular searches for similar marks or monitoring online spaces and social media platforms for infringing uses.
- Enforcing your rights: If you become aware of potential infringement, it’s important to act immediately to stop the infringing use. This may involve sending a cease-and-desist letter or filing a lawsuit with the Court to enforce your intellectual property rights.
Failure to maintain your mark over time can result in the loss of those rights. This allows others to use a similar mark and cause confusion among consumers. Be sure to maintain and protect the value of your brand over time.
What Happens After You File Your Application?
After filing the application, the USPTO assigns it a serial number and an examining attorney will review it. The attorney will determine whether the mark meets all the requirements for registration. They may also issue office actions requesting additional information or changes to the application.
Once you file the application, you have the option to use one of two trademark symbols: the TM symbol or the ® symbol. However, the ® symbol cannot be utilized until the application is registered.
If the USPTO approves the application, it will appear in the Official Gazette for a period of 30 days. During this time, third parties can oppose registration of the mark if they believe it would cause confusion with their marks. The review process finalizes and the mark registers thirty days after the publication date.
If no opposition is filed or if any opposition is successfully resolved, the mark will be registered with the USPTO and a certificate of registration will be issued.
Reasons a Trademark Application can be Rejected
The Trademark Office (USPTO) may reject an application for a variety of reasons. One reason is if your mark belongs to the same class, has the same sound mark, or has the same name as a registered mark. It can also be rejected if it is too similar to an existing trademark. Trademarked terms and logos should be unique to distinguish one brand from another.
Here is a brief overview of some rejections:
- A “descriptiveness” rejection is issued if your mark is too descriptive of the goods and services you offer. The USPTO might reject an application for the phrase “delicious pizza” for a pizza restaurant. This rejection occurs because they consider it a descriptive term for the goods at issue.
- “Generic” rejection is issued if the proposed mark is merely a generic term widely utilized in a class of goods. For example, the word “pizza” could not be registered by a pizza restaurant.
- An “immorality or scandalous” rejection is issued if the USPTO believes that your application contains immoral or scandalous content. These rejections are fairly rare due to the subjective nature of the operative terms “immoral” and “scandalous.”
- A “geographic descriptiveness” rejection is issued if your application contains geographic terms that describe where your products come from. Therefore, using a geographic area for your mark is not advisable.
- A “merely ornamental” rejection is issued if the mark is being utilized in a merely decorative way. A trademark must serve as a source identifier for a larger brand. The USPTO will reject a mark if it fails to fulfill this function.
It’s important to note that these reasons are just a few examples of why an application may face rejection. If your application is denied, you will have a chance to respond and address any concerns the USPTO examiner raised.
Need help with a rejection. Hire us to help you!
Responding to Trademark Office Actions (OA)
An applicant must respond to an office action if they receive one from an examiner. The USPTO issues an OA letter outlining any issues or objections with a trademark application. The applicant also has the chance to resolve any problems before the USPTO decides on the application.
Upon receiving an OA, be sure to respond promptly and thoroughly. To achieve this, first carefully review what was written and understand the issues or objections raised by the examining attorney.
Based on the issues raised in the OA, you’ll need to determine your response strategy. This may involve providing additional evidence or arguments to support your position, amending your application, or abandoning your application altogether.
If you need to provide additional evidence to support your position, gather any relevant documents, such as consumer surveys or legal precedent. Your business’ response should be thorough and address each issue raised for concern. Be sure to provide specific evidence or arguments to support your position.
After you draft your response, actively submit it to the USPTO within the specified timeframe. You need to submit the response within approximately 6 months from the date the USPTO sent the action. After you’ve submitted your response, you’ll need to wait for a decision from the USPTO. This may take several months or longer, depending on the complexity of the issues involved. The USPTO sends updates periodically once the examiner has reviewed your response.
Overall, responding to an Office Action requires careful attention and thorough preparation. You need to address each issue raised by the USPTO. This can increase your chances of successfully registering your trademark. If you’re unsure how to respond to an OA, it may be helpful to consult a trademark attorney.
We are here to help if you received an OA. Reach out to us to get started today!
What is the difference between a Trade Name, Service Mark, Trade Dress, and Trademark?
A trade name, service mark, trade dress and trademark are all types of intellectual property. A business can use trademarks to protect its brand. However, there are some key differences between these types of marks.
Trade name is the name of a business, while a service mark distinguishes one entity from another.
A trade dress and a trademark serve as types of intellectual property that businesses can use to protect their brand. Trade dress is the official name under which a business operates. Businesses use it to identify their packaging or unique branding elements.
A trademark is a symbol, word, phrase, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods or products from others. Businesses can register them with the USPTO and obtain exclusive rights to use the mark in association with specific products or services.
Take Legal Action against Trademark Infringement
Protecting your trademark is essential to ensuring your business maintains its brand identity. If another entity is utilizing the same name, the same mark, or a confusingly similar mark, they are likely infringing. Take legal action as soon as possible if another entity infringes on your trademark.
An initial cease and desist letter puts the infringing entity on notice that they are infringing on a registered trademark. Frequently, the treat of legal trouble via a legal process is enough to scare an infringer off. If the entity does not respond to the cease and desist notice, you may need to proceed with a lawsuit before a court. Confer with an attorney before taking legal action of this nature.
Another form of protection is international protection. You can seek international protection by registering your brand with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This step ensures that foreign goods bearing the same name as your mark are prevented from being imported.
As we’ve demonstrated, it is hard to overstate how valuable a trademark is. We can assist you in adding that value to your business. If you need further assistance or have more questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Is it Free to Trademark a Name?
No, it is not free to trademark a name. There are fees associated with filing a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
How Much Does it Cost to Trademark a Brand or Product?
The cost is dependent on several factors. The type of application you file will impact the overall cost. Applications are also more expensive depending on how many classes of goods or services you seek to protect. Hiring attorney to assist you with the process can also help you avoid paying unnecessary fees. The USPTO’s fees begin at $250 per class of goods or services. Additionally, if your application is approved, you will pay additional fees for maintaining and renewing your trademark registration over time.
If Registration is Accepted, How Long is the Registration Valid?
If a registration is accepted, that registration is valid for 10 years from the date of the registration. It can also be renewed indefinitely as long as the mark continues to be used in commerce and meets all other requirements for renewal.
How do I Trademark a Brand Name for Free?
It is not possible to trademark a brand name for free. You can obtain one on your own without an attorney. The fees associated for filing be found at the USPTO website. However, there are some low-cost options available, such as filing a “TEAS Reduced Fee” application, which can save up to $100 per class of goods or services.
Are Trademarks Public Domain?
No, trademarks are not in the public domain. Trademarks are protected under federal or state law. They can only be used by the owner of the mark or those with permission from the owner.