If you’re interested in protecting your business, raising its value, and keeping yourself disentangled from any costly legal battles, there’s no better way to go about all three than by trademarking your business. You might know trademarking as the practice that helps huge corporations like Amazon and McDonald’s become household names. But the trademark is much more than that little “c” at the end of your company name. If you’re in Washington and you don’t want to mess up when it comes to trademark selection, it’s easy enough to find a great D.C. Trademark Attorney who will help you get started. In the meantime, here’s what you should be thinking about.
1. Make Sure It’s Not Taken
There are a lot of new companies floating around out there. The best way to make sure you retain your individuality (and profitability) from the start is to pick a trademark name that’s easy to remember and completely unique. Most importantly, you want to choose something that hasn’t already been claimed by another corporate entity. This is a harder task than you might imagine. For instance, even if you make up a word like “Exxon” or “Microsoft” to give users a sense of what your business is all about, there’s still a chance that someone else has claimed something similar. One way to make sure you’re not stepping on any toes is to look up your proposed trademark in the USPTO, or United States Patent and Trademark Office. This will help you find out whether your trademark is totally unique, or already taken.
2. Make Sure It’s Legal
Unfortunately, not everything can be trademarked. In order for you to get the go-ahead from the government, your trademark can’t be too generic, and it can’t be a qualifier (think “BBQ Chips.”) It can be a made-up word, a portmanteau, or an average word that’s not usually associated with what you’re selling (think ‘Lemonade’, the insurance company.) As long as you have a name that’s strong and fits within these guidelines, you should be good to go.
3. Register With the USPTO
While you don’t technically have to do anything but file an application for your trademark, you should always go the extra mile by registering it with the USPTO. Though it might seem like a tedious extra step, it will help protect you in a court of law should you receive any opposition to your application or a conflict with a pre-existing business trademark. Applying for a trademark will allow you to do business, but it won’t do a lot to protect your intellectual property rights. For that, you’ll need to be registered. This will also help other businesses find you more easily so they can avoid taking your name or choosing something too similar.
4. Choose Something That Won’t Go Out of Style
Some names, like “Apple” for the computer company, are forever. We will always associate them with a product that keeps on renewing itself and staying relevant. Other company trademarks don’t seem very thought out and feel a bit dated. Think about “Nair,” the hair removal company, or “Bad and Boujee,” based on a song that’s already years past its date of relevance. Before settling on something, remember that it’s going to represent you for years, possibly decades of your life, and has the potential to even outlive you if you find enormous success.