A registered trademark is a legal right to the exclusive use of a word, phrase, symbol, design, or a distinctive combination of letters, or other design or symbol used by a business to identify its goods or services and distinguish them from other businesses. It is a form of intellectual property that protects the goodwill that a trademark creates in the minds of consumers. It is an important component of your brand.
It helps consumers distinguish products or services as belonging to one company instead of another. Think of the McDonald’s golden arches, Apple's iPod, or Nike's swoosh.
Even without registering, you become a trademark owner when you start using your trademark with your goods or services. However, those rights are limited and only apply to the geographic area where you provide your goods or services. A trademark registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, (USPTO) provides broader, nationwide rights and protections. With a registered trademark, every time you use the trademark you can use the TM (Trademark), SM (Servicemark), or ® symbol with it.
As business owners, one of the first things we do after registering our business with the state, and sometimes even before that, is to secure the domain name for our business. However, registration of your domain name alone does not provide any trademark rights. Without proper trademark research and registration, you could be required to surrender a domain name if it infringes on another business owner’s trademark rights. This could cost your business money in legal fees as well as lost goodwill and brand recognition.
Trademark search and registration is a service we provide to help you proactively protect your business. For more information visit our trademarks page:
The use and registration of a business name with your state does not give you trademark rights either. Another business, that later successfully trademarks your business name, could try, and keep you from using your business name if they believe that consumers could confuse their business with yours. The standard the USPTO uses is “likelihood of confusion.”
To move from the negative consequences of not trademarking your name or logo to something more positive - there is monetary value in protecting them. If you decide to sell your business in the future, the value of the business is made up of several factors. One of those factors is the protected name and logo of your business. If you have built a good name for your business and have strong brand awareness that you have legally protected, the value of that brand can be included as a line item on the calculation of value in a buy-sell agreement. Conversely, no prospective buyer wants to risk their investment in a business that has built a strong name, reputation, and brand in its field if they are not protected.
For more information visit our trademark page: