What Is a Trademark?

There are several original assets a business may trademark for their brand. A business name, logo, design, phrase, tagline, and brand mascot may all receive trademark registration. These assets are part of the company’s intellectual property.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, designs, and logos for a business. These creative marks distinguish a business from its competition and emphasize its uniqueness to the world.

Aside from gaining and building recognition with your customer base, filing for a federal trademark is an important form of IP protection. The registration ensures the owner has exclusive rights to the mark. If anyone else attempts to plagiarize or use your mark without authorization, they are infringing upon it. The owner has the rights to take legal action to protect their IP.

Does a trademark expire? The short answer is no. If the company is active and in business, its trademark will never expire. This bit of compounding interest adds to the business over time. It allows the business to build recognition with consumers for years, and decades, to come.

What Isn’t a Trademark?


A copyright protects original works of authorship. Some forms of authorship which may qualify include literary works, performing arts, visual arts, motion pictures, photographs, digital content, and architectural works.

Doing Business As Name (DBA)

Trademarks protect media which distinguishes a business. You may file a trademark at the federal level and grant its owner exclusive rights to the name. A DBA is not a corporate name. You may use a DBA to legally conduct business under a name which is different from your existing name.

Unlike a trademark, the owner of a DBA may only claim the name on the state level. If you file for a DBA in the state of California, you discourage other Californians doing business in the state to file for the same DBA. However, your chosen DBA may be filed for and use by business owners in other states such as Washington or Nevada — so long as no other companies are using the same DBA in these states.

When Should I File for a Trademark?

Typically, the best time to file for a trademark is to do it as soon as possible. However, if you decide to wait because you plan to use the trademark later it’s a good idea to prepare to specify your “basis” for filing in your application.

“Use-in-Commerce” Basis

Applications which file under the use-in-commerce basis must already be using the mark in the sale or transport of goods or in commerce between the United States and another country. The mark must appear on the goods, such as on a label or tag, or on displays associated with the goods. It must be used in the sale or advertising of services.

You may establish “use-in-commerce” basis by sharing the date when you first used the mark anywhere and the date when the mark was first used in commerce. Your application must include an example which shows how the mark was used in commerce.

“Bona Fide Intent” Basis

Let’s say your mark is more than an idea. But it isn’t quite market ready. File under a “bona fide intent” basis. You may supplement the intent to use the mark by creating sample products and drafting a business plan.

“Intent-to-Use” Basis

What if you haven’t used the mark, neither on goods nor in commerce, but plan to do so in the future? You may file under an “intent-to-use” basis.  

How to Register a Trademark

1. Conduct a Search

The best way to determine if your trademark is available is to conduct a trademark search prior to filing an application. Conducting a search allows you to see if your trademark is available for public registration.

2. Consult an Attorney

Prior to filing your application, it is possible you may have additional questions about the filing process.

Rather than attempt to DIY the process on your own, seek out the help of a trademark attorney. They may answer any questions you have about filing a trademark application and assist you so you do not make any mistakes regarding your specific situation.

3. File a Trademark Application

Once you have conducted a search, consulted an attorney, and feel confident you are ready for a trademark, it’s time to file a trademark application. Reserve the mark by filling out an application and paying a filing fee.

Learn more about trademarks by reaching out to us at mycorporation.com.