As we make our way closer to the end of the alphabet of our ABC’s of small business, we’re tackling trademarks, which can be a name, design, or logo that distinguish a company and emphasize its uniqueness. Trademarks, as defined by businessdictionary.com, are distinctive instead of descriptive, affixed to the item sold, and registered with the appropriate authority to obtain legal ownership and protection rights. By federally registering your business name or company logo, you’ll receive notice to the public of your claim of ownership on that mark with an additional nationwide legal presumption of ownership, and the exclusive right to use that mark on or in connection with goods or services set in registration. And now that we’ve briefly covered the basics on what a trademark is and how federal registration of the mark works to protect your business and brand, we’re going to briefly cover the additional steps involved in trademarking – conducting a trademark search, registering the mark, and filing for a trademark watch.
The biggest misconception that a new start-up may have about their brand is that they could be the only business with that particular logo design or brand name in place… and then much later on down the line, discover that a different company, maybe even a competitor, has an eerily similar looking company logo to your own. This is where conducting a comprehensive trademark search comes in handy to search through already registered and pending trademark applications alike in order to verify that the name and logo are indeed unique and ensure that this business is the only one that does business under that name.
Registering the Mark
Once the comprehensive search is over and all of that time and creative effort put into your business name and logo has yielded in the result that it is indeed unique, it’s time to claim your name and protect your business identity by registering your trademark and filing a trademark application to the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office.)
Your trademark application may be filed, but that doesn’t mean that you’re completely covered from here on out. You may want to consider conducting a trademark watch which “watches” any applications that may be registering a similar name, logo, or design for their business. Trademark watch services work to monitor and protect your trademark against infringement and also provides you with a detailed report of pending applications that may be similar to your trademark.