Brand recognition can be a key factor in the success of your business. However, it also opens you up to the possibility that people will use your logo or brand assets without permission. Protecting your trade and service marks is good business practice that helps ensure the marks you use will remain yours. The best part? Protection conferred by a registered trademark is practically indefinite, as long as you file the right documents and pay the fees on time. Here’s an overview of the process, with tips for registering your business trademark.

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1. Make Sure It’s Unique

The most important element of a trademark is that it's distinguishing; not only is this more beneficial to your business, but it’s a requirement to legally register a trademark. Before you start preparing to register your mark, you should first verify that it can be registered and that a similar one has not been registered before. Learn how to do a trademark search.

2. Only Register Trademarks You’ll Actually Use

Keep in mind that you should only register a mark that is already in use or one that you plan to use in the near future. In other words, you can’t register anything you can think up—if you’re not already using the mark, you need to have a plan for how you’re going to use it down the road.

3. Prepare and File the Paperwork

Once you’re sure that your brand name, symbol, or slogan is original, you can prepare the necessary paperwork. Compared to copyright or patent registration, this process is fairly simple. Prepare a clear representation of your mark for the USPTO to include in their database and to publish in their Official Gazette for Trademarks, along with a notice that the mark is planned to be registered. Furthermore, you need to explicitly name the kind of goods or services you plan to offer under this mark. The preferred method for submitting registration applications is through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). Don't forget to pay the registration fees.

4. Enforce Your Rights

Once the mark is registered, your brand is protected by trademark law. But since the USPTO does not police the use of trademarks, it falls to you to protect your rights and identify parties infringing upon your protected intellectual property. Keep a Cease and Desist Letter in your toolbox, and ask a lawyer whenever you need more help protecting your intellectual property.

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.