How Can Businesses Pick the Right Time to File for Trademarks?

You’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into your business. Now it’s time to protect it.

That’s a phrase that sits front and center on our home page, and we stand by our goal of protecting businesses built on hard work and dedication. One key aspect of this is trademark protection for your brand and elements of your business.

Attaining trademark protection takes time, effort, and money, however, so businesses often take a smart, efficient approach to choosing when and how to apply. So, when should your business pursue trademark protection?

Conduct a thorough trademark search before applying

You might be infringing on another business’s trademark without even knowing it. Before you apply, you need to verify you actually have something unique that hasn’t already been registered.

A comprehensive trademark search should be completed before any applications are filed or fees are paid. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has an online trademark database anyone can use to search for previous marks. However, there are millions of marks on the database so it’s in your and your business’s best interest to rely on an experienced attorney to assist with the search.

Once the search is complete, you can move forward with applications for various aspects of your business once you have reviewed the results with a qualified attorney and understand the risks. 

Trademarking your business/brand name

What’s in a name? One of the vital elements of every business that needs to be protected is a business name (and any brand associated with your business). Distinguishing your business from other businesses allows you to stand out from the competition and become more readily identifiable.

The best time to do this is very early in the business formation process. Once you are committed to the business, you should move to trademark your business name. This prevents others from swooping in and stealing your business name or using similar names that are indiscernible from yours while you focus on other important business matters.

Trademarking logos, products, and designs

Beyond your business and brand name, you should be considering trademark protection for the product and design output of your business. After conducting a trademark search, it’s important to make sure you actually have a trademarkable product or design before proceeding.

There are four types of trademarks and each of them has varying degrees of strength:

  • Generic
  • Descriptive
  • Suggestive
  • Arbitrary or Fanciful

Generic marks are considered common language and are rarely granted trademark protection. Descriptive marks literally describe the product or company they represent which can sometimes be granted protection as long as there is an additional meaning derived from the name (examples: Southwest Airlines, Bank of America, Sacramento Republic FC). Suggestive marks are suggestive about the contents of the product but rise above just describing the mark (examples: Jaguar, Netflix, 7-Eleven). Arbitrary or fanciful marks are the strongest as they have nothing to do with the product or service itself and are simply a name (examples: Apple, Pepsi, Google, Deloitte).

The farther down that list your mark is, the more likely you are to secure protection. Your business should focus on ensuring your marks are worthy of protection before proceeding.

At the Law Offices of Tyler Q. Dahl, we can help you determine when the right time is to pursue and maintain trademark protection. It’s important to remember you secure protection at the moment you begin using a mark through Common Law trademark protection, so while there may be urgency at times, you do have protection while you continue your work.

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Dahl Law Group

At Dahl Law Group, we’re not just a law firm. We’re your trusted advisor for your business and family from beginning to end. As your family and business grow, we will be there by your side. Our passion is providing you with peace of mind and protection through personalized estate and business planning.

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