Federal Trademark Application Preparation and Registry
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Now that you’ve started your business, it’s time to protect its name. After all, your business name is — and will continue to be — one of the most crucial branding assets you possess. So, how do entrepreneurs protect that critical element from being infringed upon locally and nationwide? Registering a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a wonderful step to accomplish that.

By registering for U.S. Federal Trademark protection, trademark owners are eligible for numerous benefits such as treble damages in some cases of infringement, the right to use the ® in your trademark, reduced brand confusion, and a streamlined process for securing your domains and usernames at social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Four Benefits of Registering a Trademark

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Trademarks Take Business Name Protection to a New Level

Forming an LLC or registering C Corporation in a state ensures that no other LLC or C Corporation can use the company’s name in that state. However, that does not protect the name in any other state.

So, if a business owner registers “T-Shirts Extravaganza, LLC” in the state of Utah, another “T-Shirts Extravaganza, LLC” could register the same business name in Texas, Delaware, California, or in any other state outside of Utah. Once that happens, if multiple T-Shirts Extravaganza, LLCs sell their products online, they’ll be competing in search engine results, and people may confuse the brands.

But you can stop that confusion from ever starting. A trademark prevents the name from being used by potential competitors throughout the entire United States.

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Trademarks Protect Company Logos

Trademark protection can apply to business logos, too. A logo is a design that combines text and graphic elements to create a  visual representation of a brand. A business’s logo distinguishes it from other companies and helps the public readily recognize the brand. So, just as it’s vital to safeguard a business’s name, it’s helpful to trademark a company logo to prevent other businesses in the U.S. from using a deceptively similar logo.

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Trademarks Instill Public Confidence

When a business name or logo is a registered trademark, the public can have confidence it’s doing business with the real deal (the bona fide brand they want to buy from). People can feel more confident about engaging with a company because a trademark helps prevent unscrupulous companies from passing themselves off as someone else.

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Trademarks Offer Peace of Mind and a Legal Leg to Stand On

A trademark provides a business owner peace of mind knowing that no one who has registered an LLC or C Corporation offering similar products or services can use their name or logo. (Note: This does not prevent sole proprietors or partnerships from using the same name because a federal government entity doesn’t regulate those entities’ names).

Theoretically, a business doesn’t have to officially register a trademark with the USPTO to protect it. If a company wants to use its name and logo exclusively, it may attach the TM symbol to them. This essentially means “this is mine,” and gives the owner “common law” rights to the marks.

However, a formally registered trademark offers greater legal protection because it gives the owner a better chance of winning an infringement suit. Registered trademarks are recognized by the ® after them.

Formal trademark registration also makes it easier for a company to recover digital properties associated with its business or products. For instance, it can help deter someone from claiming a website domain name or Twitter handle that’s the same or very close to another company’s registered trademark. A registered trademark can also make it easier for a business to recover digital assets (social media profile names and website domain names) if someone infringes upon them. For example, CorpNet ran into the issue of others trying to hijack our name on various social media platforms. Because we registered “CorpNet” as a trademark,  we found it exponentially easier to recover our name on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, which minimized the legal fees associated with getting injunctions.

Trademark FAQ’s

Do you ever wonder what will prevent another company from using your business name? How about if you’re legally permitted to use the name you picked for your business? Or do you know when you can use the TM symbol with your brand or product name?

Assembled here are all the answers to the most frequently asked questions when it comes to trademarking. If you’re a small business owner, read on to learn more about the trademark, and most importantly, if you need one for your business.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design (or a combination of any of these) that identifies the source of a product or service and distinguishes it from competitors.

What can be trademarked?

Trademark registration can be granted on distinctive names, logos, and slogans. You might want to seek a trademark for a product name, company name, company logo, or tagline. For example, “Nike”, the Nike swoosh design, and “Just Do It” are all trademarks owned by Nike to distinguish their products from other athletic companies. But keep in mind that trademark protection only applies to a particular category of goods and services. Nike Inc. may own the mark on a variety of shoes, clothing, sporting goods, etc. But there’s also a Nike Corporation in Sweden that’s involved in heavy machinery, like hydraulic lifting jacks.

What’s the difference between a registered and unregistered trademark?

Trademarks don’t actually have to be registered with the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office). If your company creates a logo or name that you want to use exclusively, you can attach the TM symbol and this essentially gives you “common law” rights. However, trademarks that are registered with the USPTO enjoy stronger brand protection (see “What are the benefits of registering a trademark?” below)Also keep in mind that in order to claim first use to a name, the name has to be “trademarkable” (i.e. not already in use by someone else) and needs to be in use in commerce. For example, if you think of a cool company name, you will need to actively market and sell a product or service using that company name for your common law trademark to be valid.

How do I know if a name is available for me to use for my company, product, or service?

Before you incorporate or register your business with your state, you’ll need to check the state’s database of company names and make sure the name you want isn’t already in use. Name conflicts are one of the main reasons many LLC, corporation, or DBA applications get rejected. At this point, you should also conduct a free trademark search to check if your business name is available to use at the federal level. It’s also important to know that you can still infringe on someone else’s mark even if they’ve never formally registered it with the USPTO. For this reason, you should also run a comprehensive nationwide trademark search into state and local databases (beyond just your own state). This should include common law and county registrars.

When should I or can I use the trademark symbol? And what’s the difference between TM and ®?

Before you have registered a trademark with the USPTO, you may use the TM symbol. After a trademark is registered with the USPTO, you have the right to use ® in your trademark. Many companies choose to use the TM or ® symbol with the first appearance of the company or product name in a document and then drop the symbol for each appearance after that.

What are the advantages of registering a trademark?

By registering for U.S. Federal Trademark protection, you’ll be eligible for several advantages, including:

  • Treble damages in some cases of infringement
  • The right to use ® in your trademark
  • A streamlined process for securing your domains and usernames at social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
  • Significantly stronger protection than “common law” (aka. unregistered) marks. This can make it much easier to recover your property, let’s say if someone happens to use your company name as their Twitter handle.

If I’ve already registered my name with the state, do I still need a trademark?

When you incorporate, form an LLC, or file a DBA (Doing Business As) for your new business, this process registers your business name with your state’s secretary of state. Before approving your application, the state checks that your name is distinguishable from all other business names registered in the state. Once approved, the business name is yours, and yours alone, to use within the state.

This protects anyone else from using your name within your state, but it doesn’t offer any kind of protection in the other 49 states.

If you’ve started a business that’s physically tied to your state (i.e. a hair salon or restaurant) and have no plans on expanding into other states, registering your name with the state or county might be enough brand protection for you. However, if you’re planning on conducting business outside your own state (i.e. you sell a product or you provide services and some of your clients may live elsewhere), you should look into trademark protection with the USPTO.

How are trademarks registered and how much does it cost?

Step 1: Do a Trademark Search

Before paying the fee to apply for a trademark, it’s wise to do a trademark search to see if the name is available in all 50 states. A comprehensive nationwide trademark search can be beneficial because it searches for registered trademarks and looks for unregistered (common law) trademarks in state and local databases and domain names in domain registrar databases.

Step 2: Complete a Trademark Application

The USPTO’s filing fees start at either $250 or $350 per class of goods or services, depending on the filing option chosen. The process for filing a trademark application isn’t terribly complicated. However, it’s critical to complete the form accurately because mistakes can be costly. Errors could result in additional filing fees and delays in approval (which could be devastating if someone else files for the same trademark in the meantime).

As with any legal matter, it can be immensely helpful to get guidance from an attorney when pursuing a trademark. And asking an attorney to handle the paperwork is one option for getting the job done right. However, having an attorney complete and submit the application might add significant costs depending on the lawyer’s billable rates. As an alternative, many business owners turn to my team at CorpNet for that assistance. We have extensive experience helping entrepreneurs get trademark protection by preparing and filing their federal trademark applications accurately, promptly, and cost-effectively

After applying with the USPTO, getting trademark approval can take approximately six to 12 months (sometimes longer).

How quick can my application be ready?

The trademark registration process can require 9 months to several years of processing at the Federal government (USPTO) depending on the complexity of your desired mark and other existing conflicting marks.

However, Corpnet can prepare your application within 48 hours. After you receive your completed application, you will be responsible for executing the application and for paying any applicable Federal fees.

Once you execute the application, it is filed with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). The earlier this “filing date”, the better.

CorpNet Can Help File Your Trademark

Let CorpNet do the legwork for you, so you can concentrate on building and growing your business. From performing that all-important comprehensive trademark search to preparing your trademark application and filing it with the USPTO, we have all your needs covered. It’s that simple!

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