Does Your Small Business Need a Trademark
The term “trademark” is commonly used in the field of business. However, the concept is not familiar to everyone. Especially if you are new to managing a company or are just about to launch your own business, its relevance may not be apparent to you just yet. But trademarking can help your small business grow and protect it in the long run. Here are the basics to give you a better understanding of what trademarking can do for your venture.
What Is a Trademark?
Any well-conceptualized business has its own name, logo, slogan, and even product names to distinguish it from other organizations and goods in the market. These recognizable bits of your brand identity are “trademarks” that consumers and other entities identify with your business specifically.
Trademarks are considered intellectual property. They also do not necessarily have to be registered to offer your brand legal protection. You can identify an unregistered trademark with the ™ symbol. This signals that an organization is using common law to protect its rights toward this particular intellectual property.
The ® symbol, on the other hand, notifies the public that something is a registered trademark. A business has to register a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) before they can legally use this symbol.
Does My Small Business Need a Trademark?
Contrary to popular belief, trademarking is not just for big-name brands. Trademarks protect your business’ right to its unique identity, so it is important to think about trademark registration early into your business planning.
A registered trademark legally protects your business on a federal level. It prevents malicious people from copying your brand identity to trick customers, and allows you to file lawsuits in federal court should infringement against your brand occur..
Your brand name and logo are two main items to consider trademarking. However, you may also trademark slogans, recognizable symbols, product names, packaging, designs, and even sounds.
Not every aspect of your small business may need trademark protection, though. A consultation with an attorney or trademarking expert is helpful in determining which parts of your brand need registration.
How Do I Register a Trademark?
Before fixing your papers to apply for a trademark, you must know if the trademark is available. Access the USPTO trademark database to find out if any existing trademark is similar to the ones you want to register. Doing this research early into your business conceptualization keeps you from using items already registered by other businesses.
Once you are in the clear, visit the USPTO website and fill out an online application for your trademark. Note that this comes with a processing fee. Should your application be approved, you now have legal rights to your trademarked items, entitling you to the use of the ® symbol. You may submit an appeal for a denied application, but note that fees are also involved and that it still does not guarantee approval.
Work with our experts at Trademark Factory® and get the best results for your trademark applications—no risks and hidden fees!