It goes without saying that intellectual property and the various methods of protecting it can be confusing, especially if you are just starting a business. It’s natural to look for ways to protect your image, most importantly your brand and logo. However, how do you go about it? How do you patent a name? Is that even possible?

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No, It Isn’t Possible to Patent a Name

Patents are only issued for inventions, ornamental designs of goods, or plants, not names. To protect your brand name and logo, you will need to utilize the trademark registration service. Both patents and trademarks are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You will need to submit the proper application and pay the appropriate fees. However, even an unregistered trademark is protected under common law and federal law. Registering a trademark, however, grants you several exclusive rights, including nationwide trademark rights, access to federal courts for litigation, constructive use and notice (meaning others cannot feign ignorance of your trademark), and it may become uncontestable after five years of unopposed registration.

When Protection Overlaps

It is possible for different types of intellectual property protection to overlap. While trademark rights can protect marks composed of common words but used in an arbitrary context or simple shapes that would otherwise be ineligible for copyright, if your trademark contains a fanciful word you coined or its logo is a design that could be considered a creative work, it may be protected under copyright laws. Examples include coined words like Kodak or Exxon or complex logos such as the Kentucky Fried Chicken logotype.

Bottom Line

If you are trying to figure out how to patent a name, the short answer is: It’s not possible. To get protection for a name, look into registering a trademark with the USPTO.

Get started Visit Our Intellectual Property Center Get trademark documents and ask your IP questions.

Get started Visit Our Intellectual Property Center Get trademark documents and ask your IP questions.