After starting your business and establishing your initial customers to reach out to, it may seem like there isn’t much to do except wait for the customers to come rolling in. On the contrary, this is the perfect time to start your business down the course for success!
One of the most important (and easiest) ways to do this is to register for a trademark for you business name, product name, logo, or company slogan. In comparison to the number of people who open up businesses each year, not many people take advantage of this step but it can really save you in the end.
The benefits of registering a trademark for your company name and/or product are twofold: protection of your business and brand recognition. First, trademark registration provides protection to the company you have worked so hard to create. All the time and energy spent making sure that you are the best can be wasted if a similarly named company moves into your neighbourhood and starts operating poorly.
Consumers may then start confusing your company with theirs which is great for them, bad for you. Registering a trademark protects you from this scenario by deterring other entrepreneurs from using your company name and also provides a method of legal recourse for those situations when another company starts using your name anyway.
The second benefit of registering a trademark is to promote brand recognition. If you think of all the products and company names you encounter every day, many of those products are registered trademarks. “Branding” is vital to a company, especially for advertising and consumer recognition.
Registered trademarks provide a national, and even sometimes international, licence for use of your company and/or product name. This allows for uniform advertising on a national level that promotes name recognition anywhere you advertise. Consumers from California to New York that search for your product online or hear about your company will associate that name with your company only; a very valuable tool for increasing your company’s business.
After you’ve worked to bring your business idea to life, protecting it becomes important. One way to do that is through the use of trademarks. Companies with similar names or offering similar products can steal customers away or negatively impact your reputation. Registering your business name and product protects against this scenario and allows you to be a unique company, saving you from consumer confusion and promoting your brand wherever you want to operate.
Frequently asked questions about trademarks:
1) My company isn’t nearly as big as, say, Coke. Am I too little to register a trademark?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) registers products, company names, logos, or slogans for a variety of companies of all shapes and sizes. There is no minimum requirement for registering your trademark, only that you have a desire to build your company up to its full potential.
2) Isn’t registering for a trademark difficult?
Definitely not! An attorney can take you through the trademark application process. This may be beneficial if you run into any legal issues along the way although this can be expensive. You can also fill out the paperwork yourself. A good compromise is to use an online filing service to file your trademark paperwork. This will help you establish what steps need to be taken in the application process but leaves you to actually fill out the paperwork, saving you money but helping to guarantee you do it right.
3) How can I be sure someone hasn’t taken my name already?
Trademarks are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), headquartered in Virginia. The USPTO’s website provides an abundance of information about the trademark registration process including the Trademark Electronic Search System, where you have the opportunity to look up the availability of certain words or phrases you might be interested in for your company. This is an important first step to take before you fill out the paperwork because it will save you lots of time down the road in the event someone is already registered with your first choice of name.
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