Many entrepreneurs may make the mistake of starting their businesses without doing a trademark search. You can know more about trademarks at this link here. If you do not verify if the name is still available, you may be risking your hard work because of legal issues when others accuse you of copyright infringement.
In countries like the USA, federal agencies like the Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) exists to protect the owners from others who want to steal their intellectual properties. You could face a lawsuit if a copyrighted work were reproduced, performed, publicly displayed, performed, or distributed without the express permission of the owner.
The Copyright Office is not actually the body that prosecutes the violation of the copyright laws. Instead, the US Department of Justice will request the necessary legal documents and prosecute those who have violated the law.
About a Trademark
Trademarks are one way for businesses to keep their rivals from duplicating their logos, unique words, designs, and colors that describe their overall company, services, and products. The copyrights protect artists and authors against others who want to profit from their songs, books, movies, software, and a lot more. Learn more about copyrights here: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/copyright.asp. Meanwhile, the patent is shielding investors from having their inventions or work used without their permission.
Searching the USPTO Site
If you are a new entrepreneur, it is essential to search the USPTO’s website for business names that you have in mind. You might already have a catchy, unique, and fun-sounding name that you want to use, but it is vital to know first that you are not infringing on anyone when you decide to use it.
However, having a “clear” record of the name that you wanted to use is not a guarantee that the Copyright Office will grant you what you want. When you apply for an application, the USPTO performs its own search and will review your request. Some of the time, they may refuse to register your proposed mark because of other reasons like creating some industry confusion.
It may be best to get the help of professionals to do a more in-depth trademark search for you to have better chances of getting registered. You can go to a business naming website for further help and see if you can get the name faster, but it is helpful if you can start searching at the USPTO’s site for ideas and insights.
Aside from the trademark search, you can also do thorough browsing on the internet and see if others are using your ideal company name on social media platforms, international communities, and a lot more. Another thing is about the common law trademark that can present challenges to you in the future that you also need to watch out for.
What Is not Allowed to be Trademarked?
The list of the things that you can trademark is massive. You can use any graphics like slogans, brand names, and logos in various colors. However, there are a lot of limitations that you need to know about. These are some of them:
- Generic words in businesses like “Pet Shop” in them. It’s possible to apply for unique names after or before “Pet Shop”
- Descriptive terms like fresh, especially if you are a restaurateur
- Misspellings of existing trademarked brands
- Words with an area of origin of the services or products sold
- Deceptive, disparaging, or misleading terms
About the Common Law of Trademarks
A common law trademark is created when someone uses a logo or business name in the markets or e-commerce platforms. Know more about this term on this site here. If you open a bakeshop in Denver and it operated with the same name for decades, the common law rights will be in place to prevent other bread and pastries stores from opening with the same name.
However, having a common law trademark will not prevent the same chain of stores to open in New York because it does not necessarily affect your services and products in Denver. Customers in New York will not be confused, and the other competitor will not affect your social media presence in terms of geography.
You may save money because common law trademarks are not required to be registered. Still, later on, if you decide to open in another state, you may need to get federal registration to prevent headaches. The marketplaces nowadays are growing rapidly, and it is becoming alluring to companies to register nationally for added protection. It also prevents others from stealing your company name, especially on the internet.
While you may think that common law trademarks will provide you with local protection, it is lack of enforceability and geographical restrictions may not be what you need for a long-term defense solution. The only way to protect your name is to ensure that it is registered at a federal level. Your business will grow, and it may even serve customers internationally, so national protection is a must.
Advantages of Searches Before Naming your Business
When you search for trademarks, you are essentially the first step of protecting your business and opening the doors for brand development. You can reap the following benefits if you are going to do this beforehand:
- Prevent yourself from adopting a brand name that you cannot protect in the long run or may require substantial expenses before you get the desired level of protection for the name.
- You can avoid spending a lot of money and time building goodwill for the trademark. In the end, you may have to drop your efforts because another company has previous claims to the terms.
- Prevent exposure to attorneys, lawsuits, and damages resulting from the rightful owners’ oppositions and claims.
Other things that you can benefit from clearing and searching a specific name are the following:
- Well-reasoned and logical clearance that can support your defense against lawsuits for willful infringement.
- The first-hand knowledge that you have gained from the reports will minimize opposition from others, and you can justify your proposals with the trademark office.
- The resulting research can help you with creative advertisements that minimize any challenges from an opposing company.