Every year for the last several years, more than 700,000 companies in the U.S. trademarked their names.
Are you interested in taking this step for your business? Are you unsure of why you should do it or how to go about it?
If this is the case for you, keep reading. Explained below is everything you need to know about how to trademark a company name.
What Is a Trademark?
A trademark is a form of intellectual property. It’s comprised of a recognizable sign, expression, or design and is used to differentiate the specific products or services of one business from others.
A trademark is different from a trade name. The trade name is the name you use to identify your company, and it’s included when you register your business with your state. It has no legal protection associated with it, though.
Why Trademark a Company Name?
There are plenty of reasons why you ought to consider trademarking your company’s name, even if you’re a brand new business. Here are some of the benefits trademarking has to offer:
One of the primary reasons why businesses choose to trademark their name is to protect themselves from having other businesses try to copy them.
When your name is trademarked, you have presumed ownership. That way, if someone tries to copy you, you have proof that your business came first and are much more likely to be taken seriously.
During the trademarking process, as you’ll see down below, you must conduct research to ensure there is no business out there already that has your same name (or a very similar name).
By conducting this research, you can verify that your business’s name is original and won’t accidentally get confused with someone else’s.
Remember, the more original your company’s name is, the better and more memorable it’ll be. Even if you do find out that there’s a similar company name out there and you have to course-correct, it’s better to find out now rather than later.
Right to Legal Action
Once you’ve trademarked your company name, you have a right to legal action. If someone tries to copy you, you have a strong case against them and will have an easier time getting them to back down.
Once you’ve trademarked your company, you get to add a special symbol (the letter “R” enclosed in a circle) to your business’s name. This helps to add credibility and shows your customers that you’re the real deal.
In the event that you want to expand your company and take your business abroad, you’ll have an easier time with foreign trademark filing. Since you’ve already taken care of the trademarking process in the U.S., you’ll be less likely to run into trouble when the time comes to branch out overseas.
How to Trademark a Company Name
Now that you’ve had a chance to find out why you should trademark your company name, you might be wondering how to do it. Here are the steps you’ll need to take if you want to move forward with the trademarking process:
Know the Limits
Start by making sure you have a clear understanding of the limits associated with trademarking your company’s name.
For example, you must prove that your company’s name is associated with a business. You can’t trademark a name simply so other people can’t use it.
Your company’s name also needs to be distinctive. The more unique it is, the easier it’ll be to trademark. You’re also less likely to run into trouble with another company having a similar name to yours.
Conduct a Trademark Search
Once you’re clear on the limits of trademarking a name, you’ll need to do some research. This helps you determine whether or not any other companies share the same as your business.
Make sure you’re checking all state databases and business directories. You’ll want to conduct a thorough search before you move forward with the trademarking process.
It might take some time up front to do this research. However, it’s better to spend that time now than to run into trouble later because you weren’t careful.
Fill Out an Application
Once you’ve determined that there aren’t any other companies out there that share your name, you can go ahead and fill out a trademark application. This application is available through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. They have an online trademark application system that helps to simplify the process.
Make sure you have the following pieces of information at the ready when you go to apply:
- Name and address of the trademark owner
- The name you’re planning to trademark
- The goods or services your company provides
- Your basis for applying for a trademark (using the name as part of a business, intending to use the name as part of a business, etc.)
Depending on your basis for filing, you’ll also need to present proof that you’re already using your company name in commerce. This might include a label or a package that shows the business’s name.
Pay a Fee
As with anything, you’ll have to pay a fee to trademark your company’s name. This fee usually costs somewhere between $200 and $300.
Respond to Actions and Oppositions
After you’ve paid your fee and submitted your application, you’ll receive a response from the USPTO. If there are any problems with the application, you’ll get a letter letting you know what’s wrong and what you need to change.
Make sure you comply with these requests so you can get your company’s name trademarked as soon as possible.
Trademark Your Company Name Today
Is it time for you to move forward and trademark your business? Now that you know how to trademark a company name, as well as the benefits this offers, you can decide for yourself whether or not it’s the right step for you to take.
Do you want to learn more about running a business and handling other legal aspects of it? If so, we’ve got you covered. Visit the Business section of our site today for additional information and resources.