After lots of creative brainstorming you’ve finally found the perfect name for your new brand. Now you just need to make sure the name is available for you to legally use without sparking a lawsuit. Whenever possible, generate a brand name that is wholly unique, so you can occupy all future mindshare among the public.
From a marketing perspective, brands with the same or similar names can create confusion among your clients, especially when consumers turn to an Internet search for more information about your company. Ensuring that your new small business branding is in the clear before you launch will help your bottom line down the line.
Here are the steps to trademark your new brand.
Step 1. Don’t skip this process!
Changing a brand name down the road can be a huge headache and a financial drain. Take the time to do the appropriate amount of research and due diligence to ensure that your new name is operating legally. If you receive a cease and desist notice from another company who claims that you are infringing on their trademark, you could waste time and energy (along with hefty legal fees) to sort out the situation. Additionally, you will squander the equity that you have already built for your brand if you have to change its name in the future.
Step 2. Research
To conduct research on your own, start with a basic Google search and through the Trademark Electronic Search System. You’re looking for other businesses or brands that have the same (or very similar) names, especially those in your state or nationwide in the same industry as yours. If that’s the case, avoid the name and immediately brainstorm a new one. However, if your Google search comes back in the clear, then that’s the go-ahead to do a deeper, more thorough search. The next best step is talking to a Trademark attorney who will also conduct a thorough search and provide counsel on all your options.
Step 3. Apply for a Trademark
Applying for a trademark involves complicated paperwork, time and knowledge of trademark law. If you are submitting a name, logo or tagline or all of the above for trademark – you can waste valuable time and money if you don’t do it right the first time. We highly recommend hiring an Attorney that specializes in Trademark Law to help with the process. Plus, when running a business – your time is better spent doing something other than trying to decipher legal applications.
Step 4. Pay the Fees
Fees differ for the number and type of trademarks you are filing, so be sure to check with the Patent and Trademark office before you file. Also note that an online trademark service or attorney’s office will charge additional fees for their services. However, depending on your circumstances, it might be worth it to pay a little extra for a smooth and easy application process.
Step 5. Cover Your Bases
Before you etch your new brand name in a stone tablet on the front of your building (or print 10,000 product labels) it’s always a good idea to consult with private legal counsel to properly cover your bases for the future. Disputes can arise if other businesses later develop trademarks or brand names that are similar to yours, causing confusion among your customers and potentially wreaking havoc across your web presence. A trademark infringement case could ruin a business—tarnishing your brand and your financial stability. Plan for success and invest in a trademark—you’ll sleep better at night.