A Guide to Trademarks and Their Registration

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Small business owners know the importance of protecting themselves, but fewer know how vital it is to extend that protection to the company’s name. Trademarks can save entrepreneurs the hassle, headaches, and expenses that come when others copy, steal, and dilute a brand. Safeguard your reputation and that of your company by applying for a trademark.

What Are Trademarks?

A trademark is a representation of a company’s products and services and can be a symbol, a logo, a name, or even a sound. Trademarks show exclusive ownership of a product or service while helping companies differentiate themselves from competitors. With a recognizable symbol and Incorp’s trademark services, business owners can build stronger relationships with buyers and turn visitors into repeat customers.

Is There a Difference Between Registered and Unregistered Trademarks?

While trademark registration is not a legal requirement, it’s an important protective step for small business owners. Here, we’ll explain the differences between these trademark types.

  • An unregistered trademark is the intellectual property of the company that created it. In the U.S., owners get trademark rights simply by being the first to use a mark. The letters ‘TM’ show ownership of a symbol or logo, while ‘SM’ denotes a service mark. The US Patent and Trademark Office’s database lists registered trademarks, and we’ll check it to ensure your mark isn’t similar or identical to someone else’s.
  • A registered trademark offers legal protection beyond that offered by an unregistered trademark. Once a mark is registered, the letter “R” demonstrates ownership. Trademark registrations are valid in every state, which means no one else can use that symbol, logo, or sound. However, registering a trademark with the USPTO doesn’t protect it in other countries. To do that, you’ll need to register the trademark with every country where you plan to do business.

The team at Incorp knows trademarks, and we’ll do what it takes to protect them. Chat with us online or give us a call to learn more about our products and services.

Trademarks

I’m a Small Business Owner. Do I Need to Register a Trademark?

The need for our trademark registration services depends on the scale and size of your business. For instance, those operating in a single state likely don’t need to register their trademarks. When business owners get state licenses, they gain the rights to their companies’ names, and no one else can use them.

Obtaining a state license, however, offers limited identity protection for businesses. If you’re moving to other states, consider registering the company’s trademark to prevent problems with competitors.

It’s also a good idea to register a trademark if you’re selling products online. Typically, e-retailers sell to people across the country. By registering a trademark, you’ll protect the company’s identity when doing business in another state. Contact the experts at Incorp to learn more about small business trademark registration.

Why Register a Trademark?

Registering a trademark comes with several benefits as outlined below.

  1. It sends a consistent message. With the use of specific symbols and words, a trademark effectively communicates a brand’s message and builds strong associations in customers’ minds.
  2. They can appreciate with time. The bigger and more profitable a company is, the more valuable its trademarks become. When selling a business, a well-known trademark can be a strong selling point.
  3. It gets your company into the USPTO’s database. Inclusion prevents other businesses from using the same trademark.

At Incorp, we strive to help every business owner protect their intellectual property and company identity. Visit us online or contact our team to learn about the benefits of our trademark registration services.

What Happens to A Small Business If Its Trademark Isn’t Registered?

Defending a common law or unregistered trademark can be costly, but owning a registered trademark means you’re the proven owner, and that ownership becomes incontestable after five years. With unregistered trademarks, there’s almost no protection, and you’ll have to prove the case in court. Protect yourself from liability by registering the company’s trademark today.

Can a Trademark Registration Be Denied?

The USPTO sometimes denies trademark registrations, with the most common reasons being:

  • The risk of confusion. The USPTO searches for conflicting marks upon filing of a trademark registration. If there are conflicts between existing marks and the one for which the application was filed, that application will likely be denied.
  • Ornamentation. Generally, a trademark application will be refused if the applied-for mark is for decorative use only. Here, the mark would not serve the primary function of identifying a product or service and distinguishing it from that of competitors.

Let us review your application and reduce the chances of a refusal. Chat with us for more information or call Incorp today.

Protect Your Business by Registering a Trademark

For various reasons, small business owners face more trademark non-registration risks than owners of larger businesses. Larger companies typically have the legal and financial resources to protect themselves and defend against lawsuits. The smaller a company is, the more protection it needs.

If you’re just starting out, it may seem as if trademark registration is an unnecessary expense, but investing in a trademark now can bring long-term savings. You’ve worked hard to build your brand, and we will work equally hard to give its name the protection it deserves. To avoid the financial and reputational losses associated with trademark theft and dilution, we recommend registering your mark as soon as possible.

Tips for Trademark Registration

Before starting the trademark registration process, check the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System or TESS to ensure that it’s not already registered. You can’t register a mark if it’s already in the TESS database.

Next, you’ll file an online application through the USPTO’s website, providing basic information on the products and services you offer, when you first used the mark, and whether it includes a design. Registration costs approximately $300 and the entire process takes about 90 minutes. Applicants typically receive responses within six months of submission.

With help from the specialists at Incorp, it’s possible to expedite and simplify the trademark registration process. Contact us today for additional details or to get started.

 

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