Many people are interested in one day becoming an entrepreneur or business owner, and are already aware that there is a lot of work involved. First, you have to decide on the type of company that you want to form, and many would probably research the industry for a while before ultimately creating the company. You might also understand that you have to register a trademark — but what exactly does that entail?
A trademark is extremely crucial when it comes to differentiating your business in the marketplace. Here, we examine how to register a trademark for your new business, and more information regarding trademarks in general. Businesses should go through the steps to protect their own trademark and be wary of other companies’ trademarks when doing business.
What Is a Trademark?
A trademark is a recognizable word, phrase, or symbol that is associated with a specific business. The point of a trademark is to differentiate it from all other similar products legally, and it refers to the fact that a product belongs to a certain brand or company.
For example, millions of people all over the world understand the “Coca-Cola” or “McDonald’s” trademarks. A trademark is considered a “source identifier”, meaning that it’s how a consumer recognizes a specific brand or company product. It may not just involve a logo, but it might also include product packaging, the name of the product, and other identifiers. For example, you may go to a retail store to purchase bandages, but purchasing Band-Aid bandages means buying a specific product, and Band-Aid is a protected trademark.
Trademarks are also complicated for various reasons. For instance, a trademark has to be consistently used to maintain ownership. Also, there are different types of trademarks with various levels of protection. Trademarks can include logos, slogans, brand names, or insignias.
Types of Trademarks
In business, there are different types of trademarks as well. It should be noted that you aren’t legally obligated in any way to create a trademark, but many business owners and entrepreneurs would urge you to do so for legal protection. Suppose someone does use your trademark in any way. In that case, your business is much more protected in terms of taking legal action against that entity if you have a registered trademark of some kind.
You can register your trademark at the state level, which means that your business trademark would be protected within state lines. This is used by businesses that are more concerned with local competition than national competition. Of course, a trademark registered at this level means that your business trademark will not be protected in other states.
If you register your trademark on a federal level, this means that your business trademark is now protected throughout the entire United States. It also means that your trademark is protected if you do business within other states or countries. A federally-registered trademark also provides a presumption of ownership. If you have a federal trademark, it means that you can be reimbursed for attorney fees by the infringing party as well.
However, business owners must always remember that a trademark can erode over time and they can eventually be lost altogether.
Let’s say that you have created a business and have all of the relevant information regarding the trademark that you want to register. First, you will have to make sure that your trademark is unique enough so that it can be registered. You should use online databases for search for your trademark terms.
A trademark attorney can also help you with this process to protect your business. The agency used to register a trademark is the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It’s also essential to do some additional research. Business owners might be interested in a particular trademark but believe that the trademark isn’t available. However, if that particular business is no longer active, it may mean that the trademark is now available.
Another tip for business owners is to search social media platforms to find whether social media profiles are associated with your trademark.
If you are interested in registering a generic term, like “wine,” you should be warned that this cannot be registered as a trademark. In general, generic terms cannot be registered, and for branding purposes, you’ll want your trademark to be more unique as well.
The trademark clearance process can range in terms of cost. Some new entrepreneurs might spend a couple of hundred dollars to register a trademark, while billion-dollar corporations might spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to register a trademark.
The law changes often, so you will want to stay in tune with trademark law if you have to adapt to the market for whatever reason. There are also two different specific trademarks – many use the “™” symbol for an unregistered trademark, and the “®” symbol to designate a registered trademark. Ultimately, you should consult with a trademark attorney if you have additional questions or concerns.
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