Startups

How to Trademark a Business Name

First off, let’s quickly explain what a trademark is. A trademark is, simply put, either a symbol, a name, a phrase, or a logo which clearly shows that your products/services are completely different from another.

If you’re a small business owner and have just set up a business, it is important to trademark your business name or brand. It’s not something that you have to do right away, but it’s recommended that you do so.

Why?

Well, think of a trademark as a shield against the many issues in the business sphere, including someone stealing your name or image, and basically, your identity. Believe us, people actually do that. How many times have you seen knock-off Nike or ADIDAS products? The difference is that Nike and ADIDAS already have so much capital, a few million knock-offs won’t destroy their business.

The case for smaller businesses is different. Having your identity or brand name stolen as a young business can be disastrous, so it’s always better to be one step ahead.

Just keep in mind that you should check and see whether or not the idea you have has been trademarked before. If it has, don’t trademark it.

Alright, enough introduction!

Let’s figure out how to get your brand name trademarked:

Step One: USPTO

The USPTO (United States Parent and Trademark Office) is where everyone goes to trademark something or have something patented.

Note: If your purpose is to apply for a name, a phrase, a logo, or a design, trademark is what you’re looking for. If you’ve invented something (like a gum that doesn’t lose flavor, or a lamp that never breaks), then you should opt for a patent.

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When at the USPTO, you’d be required to file a trademark application. But it’s not that easy. There are loops you have to go through, and of course, fees which you can’t avoid. However, once all is said and done, you’ll own all rights to the name/brand. And that’s called exclusivity!

Pick Your Time:

Generally, you can trademark in one of two ways:

  • Current commercial use: if you’ve started using whatever it is that you’re trying to trademark, you need to present evidence of the first time you started using it
  • Future commercial use: the name speaks for itself. If you’re planning on selling a product under the trademark, you need to slap it on the product packaging. Or if what you’re offering is a service, then you need to include it on whatever material you use to market or advertise that service.

Make sure you triple-check everything before trademarking. You don’t want to spend an eternity on the process, only to find out that whatever you are trying to trademark can’t actually be trademarked!

Step Zero: Search!

Naturally, you need to search and see whether or not someone has already trademarked what you’re trying to trademark. You really don’t want to trademark something that’s already trademarked. Just go on the USPTO, do a search and figure things out.

The same thing can be done with your entity name before you even think about trademark.

If you feel like you’re being overwhelmed, don’t be! Prestige Auditors is here to save the day, and we’ve got our partners at Got Suspended? with us, for those of you that have Amazon issues. Give us a call, and we’ll give you resources most businesses can only dream about!

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