Congratulations on coming up with a perfect name for your business! It’s the first step towards profitability and growth.
While this might seem like the greatest achievement yet, there’s more to successfully owning and running a business under your new name.
You need to trademark your registered business name to make it uniquely yours.
Having a registered trademark for your business means that only you can use and benefit from your business name.
It gives you the right to intellectual property and safeguards you from frauds who want to reap from your brand without your consent.
Step by Step Guide for Trademark Application
To trademark a name, you have to register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The main steps in this process are:
- Conducting a search on the USPTO website
- Applying for your registered trademark
- Filing for your trademark
Step 1: Search on the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)
Running a trademark search on the USPTO website is free. You only need to open the site and follow the steps provided.
The system allows you to check for your name and other similar names with a federal trademark in the same category as your business.
Check if your desired business name already has an existing trademark to save yourself from unnecessary trademark legal battles.
Too complicated? NameStormers can help you search for your name in the system using the same methods trademark attorneys use.
We can even pitch low risk names to you that are unlikely to be trademarked. We have helped other companies with their name search, too. Check out our portfolio.
We can save you time and money from legal troubles due to trademark infringement. All while we pick distinct names that will allow you to stand out. Just as we did for the Boston Beer Company with their Angry Orchard Hard Cider.
The company wanted a name that was bold enough to:
- Make a statement
- Describe their product’s greatness
- Stand out from the competition
We created a name that did just that.
Angry Orchard Hard Cider represents the apples most suitable for making cider due to their tart juices. The name also sounds interestingly wild and is like no other in the apple cider market.
Our attention to detail and customer specifics has earned us recognition across the board. We’ve won numerous awards and continue to help our clients get the best names for their products.
Step 2: Apply for Protection of Your Intellectual Property
Once you’ve completed the trademark search stage, you can now apply for your company’s registered trademark.
This video explains the application process as required by the USPTO.
While filing your application, you will be required to show the basis of your application.
If you’re already using your business title, select the “commercial use” option. If you’re yet to use the name, click on the “intent to use” option.
If you choose the commercial use option, you must provide a specimen of what your business title looks like. It could be a logo, a name or an image that is unique to your business identity.
Here’s what you’ll need to fill out in the trademark application process:
- Name and address of the business owner
- Your citizenship and legal entity
- A name and address for future correspondence (different from your name and address)
- A sketch of the proposed mark
- A detailed description of the mark
- A list of the goods or services traded under your business
- The class of goods or services you render
- A clear example of the logo and proof of when it was first used
- Pay the required processing fee for the type and number of classes you included in the application
Step 3: File on the Trademark Electronic Application System
After applying for trademark protection for your business, you can take either of the following Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) filing options:
- TEAS Plus
- TEAS Standard
The TEAS Plus application form is more streamlined than the Standard version and has lower chances of being rejected.
TEAS Plus costs less than TEAS Standard and has more requirements. The more the requirements, the lesser the chances of your application going wrong.
However, if you’re looking for something more custom-made for your business, the TEAS Standard form is the better option.
Note: Keep checking the status of your application on the Trademark Status & Document Retrieval portal.
What Happens After The Application Process?
After completing the application process, your case is handed over to a USPTO examining attorney.
The attorney scans your application, looking for faults or irregularities. If he finds any, you’re notified through a letter called an office action.
You have six months to respond to the letter, or your application is revoked. You can make an extension request before the deadline lapses if you still need more time to respond to the letter.
If your application goes through, it’s published in the USPTO Trademark Official Gazette. The application gets a publication date to authenticate your trademark.
Other people can contest your trademark. If this happens, liaise with a law firm that can handle a trademark infringement lawsuit and justify yourself as the trademark owner.
Can My Trademark Be Rejected?
Yes. USPTO can reject your trademark for the following reasons:
You Didn’t Register the Trademark for Business Purposes
If you apply for a registered trademark for personal reasons, the USPTO will reject your application.
It’s Generic or Descriptive
If you want to trademark a business name, ensure your company’s name is unique.
The USPTO automatically rejects trademarks that sound too generic or too descriptive.
Make your name as unique as this one we created for Bantam Tools. We focused on just two characteristics of the company, and developed a name that’s easy to remember while being low risk when it comes to trademarking.
Imagine if we’d named the company, “Easy Tools.” Chances are the USPTO would never accept it. Think outside of the box and create a name that’s completely original.
The Name Is Confusing to Consumers
If your company’s trademark has the same name as another company in the same class, it automatically gets rejected.
The USPTO can’t allow two businesses in the same industry to use a similar name because of the likelihood of confusion..
The system can also reject your application if you use unclear suggestive marks that can confuse customers.
Your company’s mark is registered if it was approved for commercial use. This means that you can use the mark nationwide as your brand identity.
If your mark is approved on the intent to use, you’ll get a Notice of Allowance. This document means that the trademark name is registered, but you can’t use it for business.
The mark can only be registered formally after you start using it in business. You will fill out a Statement of Use and provide evidence of it being used.
Trademarks and Common Law Ownership
You might be thinking, “Do I really need a trademark for my business?”
If you’re just starting, a trademark might not be on the list of your priorities.
When you start using your business name for trade, you operate under common law ownership. However, common law rights can only cover you for so much.
Under common law ownership, your name is only protected within the geographic area where you operate.
If you register your name with USPTO, your name gets over the border protection, meaning that you can use it nationwide.
If someone uses your name for unauthorized gain, common law ownership can only offer you limited protection.
However, if you register a trademark with the USPTO, and someone uses it unlawfully, you can sue them for infringement in a federal court.
|Common-Law Ownership||Federal Trademark|
|Limited operation for your business||You can operate across the borders|
|Limited protection in lawsuits||Full protection in lawsuits|
|Infringement cases cannot be presented in federal courts||Infringement case can be determined in a federal court|
Get Your Trademark Registered and Secure Your Business
Imagine someone earning proceeds from that business you’ve worked so hard to build?
Frustrating, isn’t it?
A common law trademark can help you in the initial stages of running your business. However, as the business grows into a limited liability company, you’ll have to consider giving it a sound mark for its identity.
At NameStormers, we have a thorough pre-screening process that allows you to see the risks associated with picking a certain name before you begin the trademarking process.
We also test your names to make sure they’re a good fit for you and your clients.
Contact us today to start the process of developing a business name. Then you’ll be set to register it without hitches.
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