Do I Need to Trademark my Business Name as a Small Business Owner?

Written by Sam Mollaei
Published on Feb. 01, 2016
Do I Need to Trademark my Business Name as a Small Business Owner?
Congratulations, you’ve started your own small business!
This most likely took a good amount of blood, sweat, and tears, not to mention, money as well.
Now, you most likely want your business to succeed. So where do you go from here? 
One of the last things that small business owners will think about is trademarking their business name or associated materials. A trademark is defined as “generally a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others” by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Remember, trademarks, copyrights, and patents are not the same thing; they each protect different types of intellectual property.) For businesses that are just starting out, it does not seem imperative to submit a claim, as there are still minor protections in place.
It’s not necessary to register your name or logo with the USPTO, as you will still be able to claim ownership of your trademark by using the ™ symbol. After the trademarked symbol has been registered, you use the ® symbol. 
However, if you do not adequately protect your intellectual property (in this case, your business name and/or logo), it could eventually cost your small business quite a lot in future litigation.

What are the benefits of trademarking my business name?

As mentioned above, it is possible that legal problems can occur down the line. Trademarks exist so that multiple companies don’t use the same (or similar) names/logos.
This is especially pertinent because the common law rights, which allow companies to use the ™ symbol before registering with the USPTO is limited to your business’ geographic location. You can also never be sure if your business name and/or logo is infringing on another company’s mark or not, although you can search for your company’s name in the Trademark Electronic Search System Database. 
Registering your trademark is especially important if your business is participating in e-commerce, as it is possible to not register with the USPTO if you choose to just operate in a small geographic area, as common law will automatically protect your business name and logo within the state you choose to operate in.
However, with the proliferation of the Internet, it is ever important to register for trademark with the USPTO, as it will give you an even wider geographic reach and expand your Internet presence (increasing the possibility of your success in the marketplace).
Most importantly, registering your trademark will give the public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark, giving you legal power over your trademark across the United States, allowing your business the usage of the trademarked materials exclusively (unless you grant another person/company permission to use it in a sponsorship agreement). 

How to trademark my business name

Filing for a trademark application is rather simple; you can do it yourself by filing the application directly with the USPTO for a $325 fee, or through online services for a small, additional fee.
However, a study by the University of North Carolina School of Law shows that trademarks submitted by an attorney were 50% more likely to have their trademark approved, than those without representation.
An attorney will be able to ensure that your application covers all aspects of what you would like to have trademarked, and can catch anything that may possibly create legal trouble down the road for your business. While it may cost more to hire an attorney, especially after funneling a lot of capital into starting the business, but as mentioned at the beginning, it can be worth it.
The benefits of hiring an attorney to handle your trademark registration far outweighs the cost, as it is entirely possible to lose all profits earned at the business if you enter litigation over trademarked materials and lose. Your ability to protect your business name becomes much simpler if you have a trademark, as it gives you much more legal power over any potential competitors.
If you have any questions about trademarks or registering them, you can contact Mollaei Law for a consultation.
Mollaei Law is a law firm specializing in business law serving businesses and entrepreneurs. We provide legal expertise in all stages of business development by drafting and reviewing contracts and agreements, assisting transactions and negotiating, forming LLC's and Corporations, registering trademarks and copyrights, business planning, and answering any legal questions you may have about your business. 
Sam Mollaei, Esq., business lawyer, can be reached by email [email protected] or via phone (818) 925-0002.
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