If you own a business or product and are deciding whether to trademark, chances are the answer is yes. A trademark helps you establish and protect your brand; and trademarks can successfully stand out from the competition. Many entrepreneurs and business owners don’t worry about trademark protection until their business is up and running, some even wait years.
However, waiting for a trademark runs the risk of there not being one left for your product or business. There’s no guarantee your trademark registration form will be available or approved. To find out after years of building a brand around your potential trademark can be earth-shattering for a business. Here’s what you need to know about trademarking:
When to Trademark
Deciding whether to trademark is best considered at the beginning of your business endeavor. While you don’t need a trademark to officially name your company or reserve a domain, trademarking before these steps can guarantee you don’t have any troubles with your branding down the line. Legal trouble can occur if you choose to launch a business with a name or logo that’s been trademarked and/or is similar to a trademarked brand. Registering your business as a trademark early is worth it, rather than risking any issues down the road.
Why You Should Get a Trademark
There are numerous reasons to trademark your product or service, but the most important benefit is to protect your intellectual property. A trademark ensures that your product or service cannot be used by anyone else for business purposes. It’s the safest way to prevent other businesses from using a logo or name to carry on similar business operations. After all the hard work you put into developing your business and its brand, the last thing you want is to have to go back to the drawing board and rename or revamp your products because someone else trademarked them.
How To Register A Trademark
The first thing you should do when registering a trademark searches the federal trademark database. This allows you to ensure the name or logo you’re interested in trademarking hasn’t been taken. It’s smart to look up similar names and logos as well. There’s a chance your trademark application may be denied if the name or logo requested to be trademarked is too similar to an existing one.
After you’ve searched and confirmed the name or logo you’re interested in is available, you can get started on the trademark application. The application has 10 sections:
- Applicant name and address
- Applicant’s citizenship or legal entity
- An address and name for future correspondence
- A drawing or image of your desired logo
- A thorough description of your desired logo
- A detailed explanation of the intended services provided or goods sold
- Classify your goods or services
- An example of the logo in use
- Dated Signature
- The fee for the application, varies depending on the type of trademark you’re applying for
After you’ve completed the application, you have two options; the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) Plus and TEAS Standard. TEAS Plus is less expensive and more straightforward. The application approval process takes two months less than the TEAS standard application. Typically, it has a lower rate of rejection.
The limitations of the TEAS Plus application lay within the preset list of business and product descriptions. If you feel that your business or product trademark needs a custom description to clarify the nature of your services or goods, you’ll want to go with the TEAS Standard application. These applications can be submitted online.
Once submitted, you’ll receive an emailed confirmation receipt from the United States Patents and Trademark office. The serial number within this confirmation allows you to log onto the Trademark Status & Document Retrieval portal. You can use the serial number to check the status of your application.
How Much Does A Trademark Cost?
Trademark costs tend to vary depending on the type of trademark you’re applying for. There are certain classes, which can be thought of as categories, for products and services. You’ll have to pay a filing fee for each class that your trademark falls under.
It can be helpful to hire an attorney or partner with a legal firm that’s well-versed in the trademark process, however, be aware that these will add legal fees to your overall cost. As previously mentioned, the TEAS Plus is a lower fee per class of the product or services, coming in at $250 per class. TEAs Standard has a slightly higher price of $350 per class of products and/or services.