Trademarks

Protect your branding and intellectual property with a trademark.
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Manage your trademarks FAQs

Trademarks help protect intellectual property such as your business name, logo and slogans. It is not required that you have a registered trademark to operate your business, but it may help you protect your branding.

Do I need to register a trademark?

You may not. If you are a small, local company that doesn't sell in multiple states, you may only benefit from applying for a state trademark and a local "Doing Business As" (DBA). You can operate with an unregistered trademark by simply adding "™" to your business name, slogan and website.

When you register with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), it lets others know about your trademark and that you sell goods or services across state lines. If you have an online company that provides services to those residing in other states or you sell products from your website, you may benefit from applying for a trademark since you sell products and services across state lines. You may also benefit from registering your trademark if your business is expanding, you are seeking funding, or you want to sell your business.

How do I research a trademark?

Before filing your trademark, you'll want to thoroughly research existing trademarks to ensure that your branding is unique. You can research existing trademarks online and there are a few websites available for researching foreign trademarks as well. If you do not research your trademark well, your application may not be granted if a similar mark already exists.

Why might a trademark be refused?

You'll want to research trademarks and compare them to yours not just by spelling but also by sound, appearance and meaning. Trademarks cannot usually be a descriptive phrase such as "hats sold online" or a surname such as "Smith's Hats." Your trademark may also be rejected if it is geographically misleading or falsely suggests an association which may appear like an endorsement. You'll want to attempt to create a unique mark that is difficult to be mistaken for another trademark.

Can a trademark protect my company globally?

It might, but it might not. Generally, your company may be protected if the other company is attempting to or is invading your market. If the company operates out of another country, their website is in another language and they are not operating in your market, you may have a difficult time proving damage.

To help avoid potential issues, you should diligently research your brand before filing your trademark. While performing your research, you may find companies that already exist in other countries with similar branding. If you are planning to market in other countries, you'll want to hire a legal team that can help you navigate foreign Intellectual Property laws.