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When starting a business, entrepreneurs have many things on their plate: A business plan. Funding. Starting a website and social media. Promoting your products or services.
With so much time and attention on these items, trademarking your business name may get left on the backburner.
However, trademarking your business name is imperative to protecting your business’s intellectual property. While it sounds like a daunting task, the process can actually be broken down into easy-to-follow steps.
In this article, we’ll explain:
- how to trademark a business name
- break down the 4 types of trademarks
- provide answers to the most commonly asked questions associated with trademark a business — including “how much does it cost to trademark a name?”
Let’s get started!
How To Trademark a Business Name in 3 Steps
Step 1: Search The Federal Database
The first step on the road to trademarking your business name is to make sure that your intended trademark is not already protected by a trademark.
In order to ensure this, you will need to use the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System.
Your search should entail looking up the exact name you are wishing to trademark, as well as names that might be associated with it or are similar.
This is because your trademark application could still be denied even if your name is only similar to another name.
You will also want to search for names that may sound like your intended trademark.
After you have completed your search and you have not found any matches, you can move onto the application process.
Step 2: Prepare Your Application
Your trademark application can be prepared for a name that you are currently using or for a name that you intend to use.
There are ten different aspects of the application that you will need to consider and follow. These include:
- Your current name and residential address
- Your legal citizenship status
- Your full name and current mailing address
- The possible design element you want to include with your name
- A description of your trademark
- A list of services or goods that would be covered by the trademark
- Your class for your services or goods
- Examples of the mark in use
- Your fee for the trademark
Step 3: File Your Application
Before you file, you will want to thoroughly go back through your application to ensure that you did not miss any key details or filled something out incorrectly.
There are two different filing options once you have fully completed filling out your application. The two options are:
- TEAS Plus
- TEAS Standard
While the TEAS Plus is the less expensive filing option, TEAS Standard will allow you to enter in a custom description if needed.
Upon submitting your application, you will receive a confirmation that you have successfully filed your application.
From there, your application will either be accepted or rejected.
You can check your application status online through the USPTO. However, you should receive a response within six months of filing your application.
4 Types of Trademarks
Here are the 4 different types of trademarks you can choose from.
When a business deals with goods, it will use a trademark.
When a business deals with services, it will use a service mark.
A collective mark is a trademark used by members of a “collective” — for example, an association or union.
Certification marks are used to show consumers that a good or service has met certain standards.
Trademarking a Business Name FAQs
Next, we’ll look at some of the most commonly asked questions associated with trademarking a business name.
Q. How much does it cost to trademark a business name?
“How much does it cost to trademark a name?” is one of the most commonly asked questions on the topic of trademarking.
To trademark a business name, the basic cost can vary. Typically, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $600, which is the cost associated with filing your trademark application.
Q. How do I trademark a business name for free?
You can’t officially register a trademark for a business for free.
However, businesses may qualify for common law trademark.
Common law trademark is established only through a geographical area and applies to aspects of a business that are regularly used, including names and logos.
They require no registration but are notably difficult to enforce.
Q. Trademark vs copyright: what’s the difference?
Trademark and copyright laws are both geared towards protecting intellectual rights.
However, copyright is more applicable to literary and artistic original creations. A trademark is for helping protect elements of a brand.
Q. What can’t be trademarked?
There are rules and regulations to what can and cannot be trademarked.
Generic words or phrases cannot be trademarked for that particular industry.
You also will not be able to register a trademark that already exists for that same industry.
Q. How do I do a trademark business name search?
The USPTO’s online search tool will allow you to search their database for trademarks that are already in use.
When you are searching, you will want to develop a search strategy to help you broaden your search.
Consider business names that have different spellings or may sound similar to your intended mark.
Q. Is a logo required to trademark your business name?
A logo is not required to trademark your business name.
However, there is room in the application for you to present design elements.
Trademark a Business: The Bottom Line
While trademarking a business can sound like a complicated process, it is actually pretty straightforward.
Following these simple steps can help you as an entrepreneur complete the process with ease.
While it can be an easy task to forget when starting a business, it’s critical to protect your business’s intellectual property, acting as a powerful tool in preventing theft and misuse.