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Start Your Business Startup Basics

How to Trademark Your Business Name

. / Credit: Trademark image via Shutterstock

If you are interested in making sure nobody else can use the name of your business or product, you need to make sure that you trademark the name. The United States Patent and Trademark Office handles all official trademark requests. There are some specific rules and regulations you will need to follow when it comes to getting a trademark for your business. The information below should help to guide you and your business through the trademark process.

Determining if You are Eligible

A name can be trademarked if it is for current or future use in commerce. If you are selling goods under the trademarked name, the name must be visible on the packaging of the goods, and used to refer to the goods. If you are marketing services, the mark must be displayed or otherwise used on the marketing and advertising materials for the services, and the services must be commercial services. You can file if you have already started using the name or mark in a commercial setting. You will need to list when you first started using the name or mark in commerce. If you are planning to use the mark in the future, you must document this.

Conducting a Trademark Search

Before you apply for a trademark, you must search and make sure that no one else in your region has registered this trademark yet. To do this, you must search the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) Database. If you are intending to register a trademark that uses a design instead of just a simple name, you must search using a design code. To view the Design Search Code Manual, visit their web site.

Registering Your Trademark

You can use the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) to apply for your trademark license. Simply fill out the online application form, check the information, and submit it completely online. Your submitted form will go directly to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Trademark application fees generally vary in price anywhere from $275 to $375. You can pay this fee online by credit card, electronic funds transfer, or via an existing United States Patent and Trademark Office deposit account.

Important Information for Companies Who Participate in International Business

If your company does any business internationally, you should know that your registered trademarks are generally only valid in the United States. Once you have applied for a trademark in the United States, however, you may be eligible to apply for an international trademark under the Madrid Protocol. To do this, you must file an international application with the International Bureau of the World Property Intellectual Organization. The United States Patent and Trademark Office will assist you in filing your international application. Your international application will pass through the United States Patent and Trademark Office before it is forwarded to the International Bureau of the World Property Intellectual Organization.

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