Trademark SymbolWhen it comes to protecting your intellectual property, the single smartest thing you can do as a small business owner is to trademark it. By registering for U.S. Federal Trademark protection, you get many benefits such as treble damages in some cases of infringement, the right to use the ® symbol in your trademark, and a streamlined process for securing domains and usernames on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.

Here are a few more things you should know about filing a trademark.

1. The Approval Process Can Be Slow (But Doesn’t Have to Be)

Getting your trademark registered and approved can take anywhere from 9 months to several years, depending on the complexity of your desired mark and other existing conflicting marks.

But if you don’t have that kind of time, Corpnet can prepare your application within 48 hours. We’ve got the experience you need in filling out the complicated application and can expedite the process.

2. You Can Trademark More than Patents and Inventions

Intellectual property doesn’t just cover patents and inventions. It can also include your brand assets — everything from your company name to the logo and product tagline you use in marketing.

3. Incorporating Your Business Doesn’t Guarantee Your Trademark Name

When you incorporate your business or file as an LLC, you’ll verify that your business name is available in that state, but there’s no search for your company name in the other 49 states. A comprehensive trademark search will tell you if anyone in the entire country is using an identical name.

4. The Sooner You Trademark, The Better You’re Protected

Even if the trademark process takes a while, you can submit an intent-to-use trademark application. This ensures that your brand is protected as soon as you begin selling products or services. Also, you can often get a comprehensive trademark search when you register your business. This search will ensure that your mark is available and you aren’t accidentally infringing on someone else’s mark.

5. Class Matters

When you apply for a trademark, you’ll need to determine what class it falls under. There are 45 different classes to choose from! For example, trademarked software typically falls under Class 9, “Electrical and Scientific Apparatus.” The USPTO website provides details on each class to help you figure out the best one for your product, as well as lots of other useful tips for trademarking.

6. A Trademark Lasts for 10 Years

So your intellectual property or branding is protected that long. Once this period is over, you can keep on renewing an infinite number of times. Just make sure to stay on top of expiration dates so you’re always covered.

Trademarking your intellectual property, patents, inventions, or branding is a smart business decision!