Standing out from the competition can make or break a new business. If you are a new business owner, you want to come up with a name and logo that help customers recognize and remember your business. Once you begin using a name and logo you should take steps to prevent competitors from using your name or a confusingly similar name to sell the same goods and services as you. Trademark law allows businesses to protect their brand from competitors. One step you can take is to register your company’s name with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A registrable “mark” is a name or logo used to identify your goods or services.
You do not need to register a mark with the USPTO in order to protect it, but registration does have benefits. Registration accomplishes two things: it is evidence of when you first used the mark and makes it possible to recover statutory damages from someone who violates your trademark rights after registration. Evidence of when you first used your mark is important because if two companies claim to have the right to use the same mark, the company who can establish that they were using it first will be able to continue using that mark and the other company may need to change their branding to stop using the mark.
Registration applies only to your class of goods or services. For example, cars and apples are in different classes of goods. When both companies selling the goods are small, a mark that is registered in the car category does not prevent someone from using the same or a similar mark to sell apples. You can register a mark in multiple classes, but you need to file a separate application for each class.
Not every application for registration succeeds. The marks most likely to be registered are unique to your brand. The marks least likely to be registered are words or designs commonly used in your industry.
If you are starting a business and want to choose a name that you can protect or if you have a business and want to learn more about the registration process, contact Knudsen Law Firm at 402-475-7011 or [email protected]. We can assist you in determining if your mark is registrable, estimate the cost of registration, file the application for you, and more.