After going through the trouble of finding a name for your business, you better make sure that you own that name. We have already discussed how influential your name can be in shaping the path of your company, but now we dive deeper into how you go about making that name entirely yours. The best way to own your name is to file a trademark – a name or sign that may be used exclusively in relation to the sale of your propriety goods or services. We thought filing for a trademark would be simple, but the whole thing surprisingly threw us for a loop. Use our trademark checklist to make the entire process of owning your name and logo a whole lot simpler!
Read up on what you need to know for trademarking your business: uspto.gov/sites/default/files/trademarks/basics/BasicFacts.pdf
Search trademarkia.com to see if your trademark is available. Keep an eye out for names to yours in any trademark class you may operate in one day.
Search godaddy.com to see if your domain is available at a reasonable price. You can be creative with the domain name. For example, if you are launching an e-commerce company called “Austin Clothes,” you can potentially reserve “shopaustin.com,” “weareaustinclothes.com,” etc.
Search social media channels to see if suitable handles are available.
If the path is clear on trademarkia.com, godaddy.com, and social media, then it is time to run a thorough a US Comprehensive Trademark Search. Applying for a trademark, and getting rejected, could end up costing more in the long-run. A company like Corsearch will run this search for you for about $750.
If the US Comprehensive Trademark Search comes back clear, it is time to start the process of registering your name and logo.
Look up a few companies that do what you do on the USPTO.gov website – see which class they are in, and how they word their product and service offerings.
It is now time to prepare your trademark application. You may want to work with a lawyer on this step, since they will advise you which words to include, how to describe your offerings, and how to best prepare an application that will likely get approved by the US Patent & Trademark Office Examiner (the person who accepts or rejects your application). At this point, the trademark application is considered “intent to use,” if you have not yet conducted business under your name and service mark.
Once your trademark application is complete, you can file it online.
There may be some ongoing requests, by the examiner, for you to better define the goods and services you will be offering. The examiner may also request you add more classes of goods and services to your trademark. For each additional class of goods and services that the examiner requires you to register in, there is an additional $325 registration fee. You can always add additional classes of goods and services at a later date. Once the trademark is filed, you can use the TM symbol next to your trademarked name to indicate the trademark process has begun.
As soon as you begin conducting business under your official name, you need to contact the USPTO and notify them that the trademark is “in use,” and no longer “intent to use.”
When the examiner finally approves your trademark, which can be a long and drawn-out process, you can officially use the (R) symbol next to your name.