How To Successfully Register Your Name in 3 Easy Steps!
How to trademark a name is a key concern for any entrepreneur. Of course you want to make sure you protect all your ideas and hard work!
After reading this article you will know the 3 steps you need to trademark your name.
BUT before we go into the HOW of trademarks and you go out there and start filing or contacting attorneys, its very important that you know the purpose of a trademark, when to use it and what makes it different then a copyright.
My goal with this article is that you have all the information you need to move forward on registering your trademark.
So lets dive right in!
What is a Trademark?
It is very important to first understand what a Trademark exactly is before you move forward with obtaining one.
A Trademark is essentially used to legally represent a brand, product or service.
There are two universally recognized symbols that are typically used to identify brand names that are claimed so people know they are not allowed to use them for their own purposes.
The two symbols used mean something slightly different.
Now everybody has probably seen these two symbols at one time or another (after all we are bombarded with advertising and branding 24/7) but lets take a closer look so you can understand what they mean in more detail.
Non Registered Trademark
The first one is a non registered Trademark (TM) and it means it is not legally registered. If you are currently using a brand name you can already begin to use the ™ symbol with your brand. Your basically staking your claim by using it but you have no legal rights yet because it is not registered (or officially recognized) by the government.
So… What does that mean?
It means that if someone else happens to be using the same symbol or trademark that you are, they can challenge your use of it!
Every situation is different and some of these situations can get pretty complex but…
As a general rule whoever can prove they were using the brand first will usually win.
The second symbol is a registered Trademark and it looks like this –> ®, the R means that the trademark has been legally registered.
Having a legally registered trademark means the government has officially recognized your right to use it!
This will help protect your brand so no one can legally threaten it like they can in a non registered trademark. This does not mean that no one will ever challenge your trademark but it does make it much less likely. Also if someone were to come after your trademark they are much less of a threat when you have already registered it.
How Do I Register My Trademark?
OK so now you know a little more about Trademarks and Copyrights here are the 3 steps to trademarking your name.
Use the Brand Name
The first step you want to take in trade marking or registering your name is you want to begin to use the brand name. This is extremely important because as we mentioned previously, using it is what makes it eligible for trade marking.
For instance in your products, you want to make sure that you include the name with the ™ on it and with the services, any type of advertising, brochures, business cards, and websites. Begin to use the ™ this makes it eligible for the next step if you choose to take it.
It is very important that you start establishing your intention with your brand. If there is a dispute in the future you want to show proof that you were actually using it and for a longer period of time. Recall as we mentioned above, usually in a trademark dispute the party that proves they were using it longer normally has a huge advantage and will most likely win out.
Conduct a Search
Has someone already registered your brand name? It is time do some research and you will want to check and make sure if what you are interested in is already in use. Anyone who is serious about their product or their service will normally have taken this step. There is a free resource on line, you can go to www.uspto.gov and use the TESS search which is the trademark electronic search system and check to see. Just type in the name and see if it is actually being used by someone and if they have successfully registered it.
File On-line Application
The third step is to apply for your registered trademark. For serious business owners that believe that they really onto something with their product, I would recommend to go ahead and file an online application, and this is the actual registering of the trademark which you get to the symbol ®.
You can use two different resources.
The first resource is TEAS which is the Trademark Electronic Application System or you can simply call the Trademark Association to do that.
International Trademark Protection
Lets say you have gone through the steps of registering your trademark with the USPTO and protecting it. Well that is a Federal registration and is only valid within the United States. If you plan on taking your business to the next level and going global, you need to ensure that it is protected internationally. If you do business globally using this property and you don’t take the time to go through this process internationally you are taking all of the time, money, passion and energy that you have put into your products and services and you are opening yourself up for people to steal your work and you don’t want to do that. So take the time to research, conduct the search, find out if other people are using it and if not you can go for it. If your business takes off, you got that taken care off.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Well as an attorney myself I’m going to of course say Yes. But technically you can do the process yourself. You do not have to have an attorney to register a trademark. I look at it like any other type of specialized service. If I needed a new engine put in my car or a new roof for my house, after enough research I would probably be able to eventually figure it out. However the amount of time and energy put into the project, on top of the fact that I would not be certain I was doing it right would make doing it myself completely unrealistic.
Here is why I would also strongly advise against trying to register on your own. I have seen so many cases over the years where someone made a mistake in the process and ended up having to hire an attorney anyway. Having an attorney help you register a trademark from the start is a whole heck of a lot cheaper then having one come back in a clean up a mistake! Trust me on that one.
If you are really serious about your product and services, and all the time, money and energy that you put into that, you really want to protect it from people that may try to copycat and steal your intellectual property.
You need to have legal recourse against these folks and the only way to do that is to have your ownership officially recognized by the government.
Remember there maybe some fees involved in this process and I would also recommend to consult with an attorney just to make sure everything is covered and all the steps are taken.
For the visual learners out there we have included a great infographic below that gives some quick visual information on trademarks.