How Do You Trademark a Name?
You trademark a company name by registering it with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Upon approval, you can then affix the trademark symbol as “TM” or “TM.” This symbol signifies that your name is protected intellectual property.
This website has more information about trademark symbols.
Trademark Protection Explained
When you trademark a name with the USPTO, you obtain exclusive rights to use it at the state and federal levels. In addition, a trademark prevents others from selling similar goods and services under that business name in the United States.
The primary purpose of trademarks is to prevent misunderstanding among consumers, meaning that protection is limited to a specific category. For instance, if someone trademarked “Sagebrush Sam’s” for their art studio, another business could almost certainly trademark the same name for a saloon in another market.
This website also explains trademark protection.
How Much Does It Cost to Trademark a Name?
It can cost between $250 and $750 to trademark a name with the USPTO. Several factors will influence your costs, including the number of trademarks and classifications sought. For example, you may register a trademark for more than one class and pay different filing fees for each.
TEAS Filings Are Less Expensive
The USPTO prefers that applicants submit their trademark applications electronically via the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) or one of the numerous other online filing services. Fees for electronically filed trademark applications are between $250 and $350 for each class of goods or services.
TEAS Plus processing is less expensive than TEAS Standard processing but has additional legal requirements to fulfill. Despite the increased cost, many people prefer TEAS Standard processing because it provides greater flexibility.
Paper Filings Are More Expensive
While the TEAS is the more popular and recommended way to file a trademark registration application, you can also submit a paper application. Generally, the fee for filing a paper trademark application is $750 per class of services or goods.
Filing Fees Are Non-Refundable
Remember that the filing fee is not refundable if the USPTO denies your trademark application for a business name. This is true regardless of the chosen filing method.
While you trademark a name initially, you only have ten years of protection from the date of registration. After the ten-year trademark protection period expires, the fee to renew your mark can be as high as $300 for electronic filing and $400 for paper filing.
Secretary of State Registration Costs
You could also trademark the business name via your secretary of state’s office. The cost of filing a single trademark application in most states ranges between $50 and $150.
Is it Better to Trademark or Copyright a Name?
It is better to trademark a name than copyright one. Trademarks protect the use of a business’s name and product names, as well as brand identity and slogans. Business owners don’t have to register a trademark but doing so can strengthen intellectual property protection.
Who Needs to Trademark a Name?
People with a unique, proprietary name should trademark a name for business purposes. There are several significant advantages associated with registering a trademark with the USPTO. However, the most notable is that registration asserts your legal rights to the name and offers legitimate standing when facing a trademark infringement claim against your business or someone else’s.
How to Do a Trademark Search
Trademark searches determine whether another party already uses any similar or identical marks. It is a systematic approach for searching registered or unregistered marks and clearing them for use.
Below, we’ve outlined five critical steps for doing a trademark search :
Step 1. Select a Name
Create a name for your business. It’s prudent to generate several alternative names if someone else owns it. Try to research the availability of your targeted name online as you develop your ideas.
Step 2. Describe Your Offerings
When registering a trademark, you must specify the goods or services associated with your trademark. For instance, if you intend to open a chain of restaurants, your products will fall under the category of “restaurant services,” which the USPTO classified as Class 41. If you intend to seek trademark protection in more than one country, consult the appropriate national list.
Step 3. Conduct a Trademark Search
Select a trademark database and search for the terms contained in your mark. Begin by looking for exact matches. Then broaden your search to include similar-sounding words (Hurts vs. Hertz), spelling variations (Inotek vs. Inotech), and similar meanings (Bison vs. Buffalo).
Scan the results to determine whether any of the trademarks are registered for the same offerings as those you seek to register. Additionally, you can conduct a combined search using your trademark and terms relating to goods and services or international class codes.
Step 4. Verify the Trademark’s Current Status
Check the current status and ownership information for each relevant trademark you discovered in Step 3. You may be able to use expired and no longer in use trademarks. However, specific rules apply to their use, so you may want to consult with a trademark lawyer if you cannot use the name.
Step 5. Increase the Scope of Your Search
A thorough trademark clearance search would include both unregistered marks and state-registered marks.
Other mediums for trademark search include:
- Business directories
- Internet domain names
- Local shopping centers
- Secretary of State database trademark searches
- Social media
- And more
You should also maintain meticulous records of your search process. For example, keep track of the date you conducted the search, keywords, terms, codes used, databases you searched, and trademarks discovered.
These searches are often far too intensive for one business owner to handle alone. As such, you may want to consider a trademark lawyer to perform a preliminary and comprehensive search for better results.
How to File a Trademark Application
Your business’s identity is shaped by its brand. Local, state and federal trademark laws recognize this importance. Therefore, It is critical to file a trademark application form and register your trademarks to protect them.
Take the following five steps when you apply for a trademark:
- Step 1. Conduct a preliminary and exhaustive trademark search
- Step 2. Complete an online or paper trademark application
- Step 3. File your trademark application via TEAS or postal mail along with your filing fee
- Step 4. Monitor your application’s progress and follow up immediately with requests for additional information
- Step 5. Affix the trademark symbol to your business name upon approval
- Step 6. Maintain your trademark by actively using it and re-registering it every ten years with the USPTO
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