How Successful Should My Business Be Before Registering a Trademark?

The question, “How successful should my business be before registering a trademark?” reveals an issue that intellectual property lawyers face often. Trademark protection is something many business owners do not think about until they have been operating for some time. That could be too late to protect your brand.

Ideally, a business owner would explore trademark issues when they are choosing the business name and branding. Once a business is in operation, the best time to work on trademark protection is immediately. Contact the trademark attorneys at Lomnitzer Law for help.

Waiting to Register is Risky

Business owners often put considerable time and thought into choosing a business name, logo, symbol, slogan, or sound to represent their product or service. They carefully select colors and fonts, and take care with the tone they project.

However, business owners often neglect a trademark search before they launch their enterprise. Months or years later, when they try to register trademarks for their brand, they may find the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) withholds approval because theirs is confusingly similar to another registered trademark. After investing considerable resources in building name recognition, the owner might have to consider changing the business’s name and branding.

Consider Intent to Use Trademark Registration

The law at 15 United States Code § 1051(b)(1) offers the opportunity to trademark a brand before launching a business. Business owners can apply for trademark registration on an “intent to use” basis. Doing so allows the owner to avoid choosing a name, logo, or other branding that is already registered.

When granted, intent to use trademark registration reserves a business owner’s right to use the name or mark in their business. The protection dates back to the application filing date.

The USPTO reviews the trademark application and, if the examining attorney has no objections, approves it for publication. If no one protests the mark, the business owner has six months to submit a statement of use, confirming they are using the trademark in commerce.

Better Late Than Never

It is never too late to try and register a trademark. When a business owner has been using a business name, logo, or other branding, they may apply for trademark protection on a mark they currently use in commerce.

The applicant must provide samples showing how they use the mark; and when the mark is a name, slogan, or logo, they must include a drawing and a specimen. The drawing might be typed words or a .jpeg file of the mark without anything else around it. A specimen is a picture or example of the mark in use. If the mark is a sound or video, an electronic file of the sound or clip could be the specimen.

After receipt of the application, drawing, and specimen, a USPTO attorney reviews the materials and either raises an objection or approves it for publication. An applicant can respond to any objection. If there are no objections or the applicant meets them satisfactorily, the USPTO will approve the registration and the applicant’s mark is now protected.

Contact a Trademark Attorney When You Begin Branding Your Business

Do not wait for your business to be successful before thinking about trademark protection. Having a recognizable brand can be instrumental in growing your business, so protecting your ideas is something you should be thinking about from the beginning.

Contact a trademark attorney as soon as possible—whether you are just putting your ideas into motion or you have been using them in your business for some time. We can help you get your trademarks registered and ensure your brand is protected.