How to trademark your business
How to trademark your business
How to register a trademark?
Most recent guest posts from MyCorporation include license and what entrepreneurs can do to protect these assets. Today, we are turning to trademarks, often seen as the same as copyright.
Are trademarks interchangeable with copyrights? The quick answer is no!
Copyright protects original works of copyright. Trademarks protect words, phrases, symbols, designs, and symbols that distinguish a business and emphasize its uniqueness to the world. Creative words, phrases, and designs that are not protected by trademarks are at risk of plagiarism by outside sources. These sources can even go so far as to brand your idea as their own. You (and your business) may be powerless to keep out competitors if you have never previously claimed a monopoly by registering a trademark.
If you own and operate a small business with an original name and/or design, chances are you have filed a federal petition and registered trademark to prove you are the rightful owner. Entrepreneurs who have created brand new phrases and/or logos need a pause before they launch these ideas publicly. Follow these steps to trademark and protect ideas before they can be claimed by others.
1. Conduct a trademark search.
Before filing a trademark application, do not assume that your trademark may not be used elsewhere. However, your idea may be unique, it is possible that another entrepreneur or business may have claimed a trademark or have a pending trademark in their name.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides a trademark database for entrepreneurs so they can conduct a thorough search. Invest a little more time to do a thorough search for your desired brand. You can view registered and pending trademark applications in the database.
Has your score been taken? It’s time to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm again. If you have trouble finding a better brand, the USPTO recommends creating strong mark. This is a federally registered and legally protectable trademark. (You can watch an animated video in the link sharing more on how to create a strong brand.)
Are your points marked for capture? If it’s available, it’s time to reserve.
2. Determine if you should consult a trademark attorney before filing.
I wish I could tell you that the next step in the process is to file your trademark as quickly as possible. However, every business and entrepreneur is different. You may find that you start applying and the application has questions that you cannot answer.
Instead of trying to do it alone without having a clear understanding of what you’re doing, you should consult a trademark attorney for help. The USPTO outlines the types of attorneys that may be allowed to represent and work with you on their website, so entrepreneurs should follow their guidelines.
Of course, this is not a requirement. Despite that, many applicants look to a trademark attorney for legal advice. This advice can cover anything from filing an application to using a trademark and helps entrepreneurs avoid making common mistakes.
Keep in mind that you may need to pay a fee for the assistance of a trademark attorney, but the trade-off may be worth your peace of mind in filing a trademark application.
3. File a trademark application for trademark registration.
You have conducted a search, consulted an attorney, and determined that your trademark is federally registered. It’s time to file and register a trademark.
Remember that in addition to being federally registered, the USPTO states that your trademark must also be able to properly identify your goods and services. You must also be able to determine the appropriate filing basis for your application, which you can discuss in advance with a trademark attorney.
Once you’ve met these requirements, you can start filing for a trademark. Remember that you will need to pay an application fee (also a non-refundable processing fee) for your application before submitting it for approval. You will also need to be registered in the Eastern Time Zone, as stated by the USPTO.
What should you do while you wait?
Curious about your application status? USPTO recommends tracking your application through Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) system. This allows the applicant to conduct trademark tracking, essentially “tracking” other pending applications that may be registering similar marks to better protect your trademark. .
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com offers online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup packages including company and LLC formation, registered agency services, DBA and copyright and trademark filing service. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCor Corporation.
Fundbox and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This document has been prepared for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon as tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult with tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.