The best way to protect a company name from competitors using a confusingly similar name is to apply for and obtain a trademark registration from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs spend hours coming up with clever and creative company names. Once a name is chosen, it is important for them to do two things. First, they should conduct trademark searches to confirm there is no similar company using the same name. And second, they should strongly consider filing for a federal trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to secure maximum trademark protection for their company name.
Benefits of USPTO Trademark Registration
By using a company name in commerce, the company automatically receives some trademark protection via common law trademark rights. However, common law trademark rights are limited to the area the company name is used and are harder to establish in the event a company tries to enforce their trademark rights.
The best way to protect a company name is to not rely only on common law trademark rights, but to proactively apply for and obtain a trademark registration from the USPTO. The benefits of a federal trademark registration include:
Nationwide trademark protection;
Exclusive right to use the trademark;
Proof of trademark ownership;
Easier to license or franchise the company name;
Presumption that the trademark is valid;
Ability to use the ®-symbol after the company name; and
Additional benefits in civil court cases.
The best way for businesses to protect their brand, and especially their company names, is to apply for and register their company name with the USPTO.
How to Register a Company Name as a Trademark
To register a company name with the USPTO as a federal trademark, the company must file a USPTO trademark application. In the trademark application, the company must include the trademark name, the owner of the trademark, the dates the trademark was first used, an acceptable trademark specimen, the list of goods and/or services applied for, and more to meet the minimum trademark filings.
The trademark registration process is not fast. To avoid unnecessary delays, hire a trademark attorney.
Once a trademark application is submitted, it can take anywhere between eight months to three years for it to be accepted and the USPTO to register the trademark. If there is a problem with the trademark application, the USPTO will reject the trademark application and any money invested in the application, such as USPTO fees, will be lost.
Common issues that trademark applications encounter that can result in them be denied trademark registration by the USPTO include missclassifcation of goods or services, an unacceptable trademark specimen, the trademark is deceptive, the trademark is geographically misdescriptive, the trademark is not distinctive, the trademark is likely to cause confusion with a previously registered trademark, and more.
The best way to obtain a trademark registration in the shortest time possible, and avoid the pitfalls that often plague trademark applications is to hire an experienced trademark attorney. Experienced trademark lawyers will be able to foresee and avoid any potential issues that can delay the trademark application or kill it altogether. Applications filed by trademark attorneys have a much higher success rate than those hired by pro se applicants.
If a trademark application for a company name is successful, the company will receive a trademark registration certificate from the USPTO that shows the trademark, the owner, the registration number and more.
At the end of the process, the USPTO will issue a trademark registration certificate
Do you have questions about applying for a trademark registration for your company name? Contact us today for a Free Trademark Consultation and an attorney will reach out to you within twenty-four hours.