Should I Trademark My Business Name?
One of the first and most important decisions you make when starting your business is to choose the name. It is a good idea to know what steps you can take to protect your business name. This article will discuss registering your business name and when it may be important to trademark it.
Registering Your Business Name
When you started your LLC by filing your articles of organization, you essentially registered your business name with the state. Once it is approved, the name is yours and no one else can use your business name within your state. If you plan to sell your products or services under a different name (other than the legal business name) you are required to file a fictitious name statement or “assumed name certificate” either with your county or in some states with your secretary of state. An assumed name certificate is a claim of ownership and is sometimes referred to as a DBA (short for Doing Business As). The state keeps track of every assumed name a business uses in case a consumer needs to find the legal owner of a business. Registering your business name in your state only protects your name in that state, but not in any other state.
You may want to consider trademarking your business name at the federal/national level especially if you ever plan to expand your business, have an internet business, or sell your products in other states.
While registering your business name is protection at the state level, getting a trademark for your business name is stronger protection at the federal level. Trademarking your business name helps protect the business in every jurisdiction that you do business in.
Trademarks are given by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and cost around $300. Start with a free search to make sure no one else has a pending application with the USPTO for your proposed trademark. It can take from 6 months to a year to get your trademark finalized. A trademark has an unlimited lifespan as long as you keep up with renewal requirements.
- strong federal protection from another business using your name
- a simple process for getting domains and usernames on social media sites
- trademarks are considered property, have a value, and can be sold
If your business name is a valuable asset to your business it is highly recommended that you trademark it.