You may be asking yourself: do I need a trademark? We've got your know-all guide so you can get the answers you need to know. Read on to learn more.
Whether you’re starting a business, expanding your product line, or rebranding, it’s important to ask yourself — do I need a trademark for my business? There are a lot of factors to consider. As with any other intellectual property matter, it’s always good to check off all the boxes before going through the process or deciding it’s not necessary for your business. Here are 10 things you should know:
1. What is a trademark?
A trademark, internationally speaking, can be anything ranging from words to graphic representations (generally a logo) that represent a company or product. The first thing to understand when you're asking "do I need a trademark?" is that it is absolutely separate from other business filings. It’s a completely different process legally versus the process you go through to register your fictitious name, LLC, or sole proprietorship with applicable state and federal governments.
2. Why register a trademark?
If you’re selling a unique product or service, registering a trademark can be an integral aspect of protecting your intellectual property and ensuring that no one else can use your name or logo to do business. Registering a trademark is almost always your safest bet in order to prevent another business from using your logo or name to carry on business operations.
3. Do I need a trademark to be registered to use it?
You do not need to have a trademark in order to name your company, reserve a URL, or have a logo. You can operate without one, but if someone or something else is operating using the same name, you could have legal trouble down the road if you do not ask yourself the question "do I need a trademark?" If it is going to keep you legally protected as a business to register a trademark, why not do it? It's definitely better to operate with a trademark instead of taking the risk.
4. How An IP Consultant Can Help
Professional IP consultants can assist in protecting, strengthening, building and growing your businesses by managing and using the intellectual property system to your advantage. Choosing a global intellectual property service company with experience handling trademark situations of all types will ensure that you're in the right hands and you can continue doing what you do best — building your business.
By hiring an attorney, you're making the process of registering a trademark for your business a less stressful affair and you're doing things right from the start. In fact, by hiring a lawyer who specializes in trademarks, you're increasing the chances that you'll get your trademark application approved by 50%.
5. The Difference Between A Trademark, And A Copyright
Trade secrets and copyrights are categorically different than trademarks. Trademarks do not necessarily involve information that is not known to the general public whereas a trade secret does. Businesses typically protect their trade secrets by taking measures such as asking employees to sign nondisclosure agreements.
Copyrights are different from trademarks in a variety of ways. Namely, the fact that they grant the right to copy works of intellectual property for a finite amount of time.
6. Is your name a brand?
In some cases, you may want to trademark your own personal name. If you’re an author, for example, intellectual property with your name attached could be valuable.
Another instance where this could be important is if your business is registered under your name. It could be a family business with the family name selling the family recipe.
7. Always Perform A Trademark Search
When you are registering your business with the state and federal government, one of the actions you should perform is to see if the name and entity you’re registering has already been trademarked by someone else. You can get approved for your business name or entity and have it be trademarked by someone else already.
This means that if you’re operating and selling goods under a name that’s been trademarked by someone else, whoever owns that trademark can take legal action or ask you to stop operating under that name after the fact. That lands you right back to the beginning of the process.
The best way to prevent this is to check. You can perform a trademark search by going to these websites:
- US Patent and Trademark Office
- European Union Intellectual Property Office
- World Intellectual Property Organization
8. How Much Does It Cost To Register A Trademark?
How much a trademark costs to register depends on where you are. In the United States, it generally costs a few hundred dollars, depending on how many classes you would like to protect. If you leave the process to a professional it usually costs a few hundred dollars above that.
In terms of approval, you can potentially increase the odds that you’ll get approved if you hire someone to do it for you. A few words here and there in the application process can make a big difference.
9. Trademarks Matter Whether Or Not You're Selling Products
It does not matter whether you're selling products or services under your business' logo and name — a trademark can be essential. If you're conducting operations as a business, you should be looking into whether or not you should be registering a trademark before doing so.
10. Trademarks and Cybersquatting Rights
Do you have a trademark on something and you’ve registered it and someone is sitting on a URL that bears your business’ name? If you register your trademark, you’re more likely to have some clout under The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
You may not be Nicole Kidman, but if someone is using your name and profiting off of it, or just letting it sit there without giving you access or an opportunity to take it back, you could potentially be able to reclaim it. However, if you don’t have a trademark, it’s going to be pretty difficult to accomplish that.
Are you still on the fence about whether or not you need a trademark? Contact us to discuss your intellectual properties rights. We have consultants ready to share their wisdom.