Trademarking is one way to keep your intellectual property protected. Putting a trademark on your business name in a place like Houston helps customers distinguish between your business and others. Since trademarking displays ownership, it can also help you build your brand, create a brand identity, and attract investors.
With the many benefits attached to trademarking your business name, it’s a step you shouldn’t delay. Trademarking your business name isn’t complicated if you do it correctly, and you can start by consulting with a trademark attorney Houston has to offer.
They’ll help you understand whether you can trademark the name and guide you on how to do so. However, it’s also important that you also understand how to trademark your business name, because it’ll make the process so much easier for you.
Steps to trademarking a business name
You can trademark your business name by claiming ownership of the name early before registration. This is done by adding the “™” superscript to the name. By doing that, the common law trademark covers you to an extent within the state you operate in—however, this doesn’t apply throughout the country.
This is why you must register your trademark federally, so your trademark belongs to only you. It will also reduce competition and brand confusion among customers, preventing others from using similar names so your business remains distinct until the trademark expires in 10 years.
Here are some steps to take to trademark your business name.
- Determine if a trademark is necessary
After choosing a name you think is suitable for your business, you must decide whether getting a trademark is the right avenue for you, or whether it would be better to pursue other intellectual property protection options, like copyright.
Using a business name within an area already provides you with some trademark protection, especially if you have proof that you’re the first business to use it in an industry.
However, this extends only to local geographic areas. You may be unable to file a federal trademark infringement suit if someone else steals or misuse your trademark unless it’s registered. If getting sole ownership of the name is important to you, then you’ll need a trademark.
Trademark law protects you on a national level. Once you’ve gotten a trademark in the country, you can easily apply to other countries to enforce your trademark.
- Conduct research
After deciding that you want a trademark for your business, you can move on to researching existing trademarks. Check through the federal database to confirm that your intended business name isn’t an existing one and, thus, protected by trademark law.
You can go through the USPTO Trademark Electronic Search System or TESS. When searching, consider all name options. Don’t just search for whether your business name is taken. Look also for similar ones—otherwise, your application may be rejected.
To prevent customer confusion, you can’t trademark a name similar to another one in the same class or industry. If your business name is just a tweaking of another’s, your application will likely be rejected.
- Apply for the trademark
Once you’re done with your research, it’s time to apply for the trademark. You can avoid the hassle of applying yourself by asking a trademark attorney to help, as they’re likely to be more meticulous with the application.
The application requires some information from you, including your name, address, and personal details. You can register the name in a particular style, color, or font; however, the trademark will only protect the name’s depiction.
You’ll also need to state the services or products the name will cover, describe them, and identify which class they fall into. If they fall into more than one, it’ll attract extra fees. Check the USPTO’s trademark ID manual to determine which class you fall into.
- File the application
After completing your application, you need to file it via either of the two filing options available in the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS): TEAS standard or TEAS Plus.
Filing with TEAS plus is more affordable; however, not everyone is eligible for it. To do this, you’ll need to provide a standard description of goods or services from the trademark ID manual.
If you file with the TEAS standard, you’ll need to provide a custom description of your goods and services; however, there are risks associated with that, which may lead to rejection.
After filing, you’ll receive a serial number which will be used to reference your applications. Then, your application will start to be processed.
- Wait for approval
After your application has been submitted, it’ll be assigned to a USPTO attorney, who will review it to check its validity and whether it meets all the requirements.
Reviewing your application may take months, and the attorney may contact you if they need clarification or more information. You must respond to the issues within six months or your application filing will expire.
After the application has been processed, you’ll receive approval published in the weekly publication of the USPTO or a rejection letter. You can appeal if your application was rejected for an extra fee. A trademark lawyer will be able to defend you where necessary.
- Maintain your application
You must file maintenance documents within two months after the USPTO sends a registration. Your trademark might expire if you don’t fill it out on time. Furthermore, you must check your trademark status yearly via the USPTO’s system.
You should note that while the USPTO registers trademarks, they don’t enforce them. Therefore, you must monitor trademark infringers yourself to take action against them.
Trademarking your business name prevents others from using it. You must legally apply for a trademark with the USPTO for proper protection. You should speak to a trademark attorney before applying or when the application process gets confusing.