Why You Should Trademark Your Business Name to Protect Your Brand

Small Business - October 21, 2021
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Updated March 11, 2024

Picture this: A business owner starts her company, excited for the journey ahead. She sets up her storefront and creates a website. She starts selling her product. A couple months later, she discovers that another business owner is using her exact same brand name to sell their own products! Now she may be facing a lengthy legal process to undergo if the other business owner has the brand name trademarked, but not much legal ground to stand on. Why? Because she did not trademark her business name.

As a business owner, you have certain names and logos that you want to reserve for your exclusive use with your products. But when you contact the patent and trademark office, you might find that it’s more complicated than you expected. Knowing how to trademark something takes time and education. For example, how much does it cost to trademark a name? How long does a trademark last? How can you avoid trademark infringement? You’ll need answers to all these questions and more.

Trademark vs. copyright

You may hear the terms “patent,” “copyright,” and “trademark” used interchangeably sometimes. However, each term is specific to the type of product or intellectual property in question. Patents are for technical inventions such as medicine or machinery, while copyrights are for intellectual property such as software design, song lyrics, and other created works.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a word, design, phrase, or combination of those things that identifies your goods or services as unique to you. Trademarking your name or logo keeps other companies or individuals from trying to use the same name or logo for their own purposes. A trademark can even prevent others from using trademarks that are not identical to yours, but may be too similar for consumers to differentiate.

Trademark vs. LLC

An LLC is a limited liability company. If you register your business as an LLC, you are protecting your personal assets from lawsuits, bankruptcies, or other unforeseen financial problems down the road. However, trademarking your business name helps protect your intellectual property. For example, if you make up a unique name for your business, a trademark will register that name as your intellectual property and will help keep others from using the same name for their own business.

Trademark vs. registered

One benefit of trademarking intellectual property is that you can start using that intellectual property before and during the trademark application process. You may have seen a superscripted R in a circle or a TM after a trade name or logo. These designations alert the world of where the mark is in the registration process. The TM means that the application has been filed, but not completely registered. The “R” means a trademark has been officially registered.

Benefits of trademarking a business name

There are several benefits to trademarking your business name. Here are just a few:

  • When you trademark your business name, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) lists it in their database of registered or pending trademarks. That means that anybody who is searching the database can see your trademark and know what it is for. Other business owners will know your trademark is off-limits for them, while potential customers or investors will know that your business is legitimate.
  • You’ll be able to expand your business to other areas. You can use your trademark registration to file for further trademark protection in other states.
  • The U.S. Customs and Border Protection can stop goods with infringing trademarks from being imported into the U.S. if you have recorded your official registration with them.

What is trademark infringement?

Using someone else’s registered trademark is trademark infringement.

How long does a trademark last?

You must maintain your trademark registration by following certain guidelines specified by the USPTO.

Do I need an attorney to file a trademark?

It’s recommended that you file your trademark application with a lawyer’s help. You can try to do it alone, but if your application contains even a slight error, things can get complicated quickly. You could waste your government filing fee, get rejected by the USPTO, or potentially file for a trademark that someone else has already registered. A lawyer can ease the process greatly by explaining your responsibilities, helping review paperwork, and offering consultation for questions you may have.

How much does a trademark attorney cost?

In some areas, the average cost to hire an attorney to file your trademark may be between $1,000 to $2,000 or more for the basics. However, if the trademark process gets complicated or involves legal disputes, your lawyer could charge you an extra $300 to $400 per hour or more for additional services.

We suggest that you start out with LegalShield! When you become a LegalShield Member with a Small Business Legal Plan, you gain affordable access to a provider law firm that can help with your business-related legal needs. You can receive advice, research, and designated consultation at a fraction of other lawyers’ hourly rates. Your LegalShield provider law firm may also determine if writing a letter or making a phone call would be of further assistance on the legal matter, and may review business legal documents up to 15 pages each. With LegalShield’s assistance, you can trademark your business name with confidence!

LegalShield can help you set up and protect your business the right way by answering legal questions you may have. Check out our Small Business Legal Plans and select the right option for you today!


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