Should I trademark my business name?
Even without registering your trademark, you are the owner of your name and logo in your geographic area if you are the first to use it in commerce. However, it is difficult to determine whether you were the first to use it in commerce without doing a comprehensive search. Although a trademark attorney cannot guarantee that you are the first to use it in commerce, they can do the next best thing. The next best thing is to do a comprehensive search to give you peace of mind that you can grow your business without the fear of having to give up the rights to use your brand and logo.
For business owners who want to protect their business name, slogan, and logo, registering their trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a responsible step to take. Registering your trademark gives you legal rights to use it in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It also gives you the right to prevent others from using it. You become the legal owner of the mark with the exclusive right to use it. Once registered and properly maintained, the USPTO will reject any other applications that are the same or similar to your trademark, and which would likely create confusion between the two marks.
Many business owners are often surprised by the cost and the length of time that a trademark registration takes. Even without including the time it takes to do a comprehensive search, it can take a year or longer to go from filing an application to getting a trademark approved. First, it takes three to four months for your application to go before an examiner at the USPTO. Then the examiner will review the application for errors and potential conflicts with an existing mark. If there is a conflict, the examiner will issue an Office Action, which you will probably want your small business attorney to respond to. If you respond to the application and the USPTO examiner accepts the response, then your application will move forward and be published. If no one objects to the publication for 30 days, then your trademark application will be approved, and you will finally receive your Certificate of Registration two to three months later.
Once you have a trademark, be sure you continue to use it along with the federal registration symbol: ®. If you don’t use it, you will lose it. Using it will also put your competition on notice that your brand is protected. This distinction is important in court. If you use the ® symbol, the alleged trademark infringer is deemed to have known that they were prohibited from copying your trademark.
Every business should consider whether registering their trademark would be a valuable step for them to take. If you’re not sure whether you should register your trademark or not, make an appointment for a consultation with our firm. We will help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of trademarking your brand.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for educational and informational purposes only. An attorney-client relationship is not formed by visiting this website, commenting on this post, or submitting information through the Contact Us form. The information provided here is not intended to, and should not replace, advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Kimberly Shin Law Firm PLLC disclaims all liability with regard to any and all actions taken or not taken as a result of information contained here.