How to Trademark a Company Name [Full Guide for 2022]

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If you want to distinguish and protect your company and its products from competitors, a trademark for your company’s name is the answer. However, there are many doubts and ambiguities around trademarking a company name and whether or not it’s actually necessary or beneficial.
If you’re wondering why and how to trademark a company name, read our guide for full definitions, tips, frequently asked questions, and clarifications on company name trademarking.

What Is a Trademark?

Trademarking a name refers to a legal process that ensures your company has a logo, phrase, symbol, or design that distinguishes it from competitors. A special mark is allocated to a specific product, logo, or name that identifies it as unique to a specific business. The symbol “™” is typically used alongside the trademarked name to emphasize its legality.

The main purpose of a trademark is to protect a product, design, or phrase against consumer confusion. Because the industry is filled with copies, a registered trademark allows consumers to differentiate between real and fake.

To differentiate between an authentic trademarked product and a replica is easy, as fake logos, slogans, phrases, business names, and products will typically showcase some or all of the following:

  • Spelling and grammatical mistakes within the business or brand’s name
  • The business has a fake website and/or social media pages
  • The packaging isn’t high quality and is mostly flimsy
  • Product quality is low
  • A logo or symbol is flawed in a small way
  • Not all accessories are included as with the original
  • The product is sold at extremely low prices and unreal discounts

Here are some tips on how to check if a name is trademarked:

  • Search registered trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
  • Search all-applied trademarks with the Trademark Electronic Search System (“TESS”)
  • Use a registered LLC service agent to help you choose the right name by checking similar names in the system
DID YOU KNOW: King Henry III passed the world’s first known trademark in 1266. The law was implemented to protect bakers’ recipes of their bread and ensure copycats didn’t sell bread under false pretenses.

 How Are Business Names and Trademarks Different?

A company’s business name refers to the name used in trade. It’s important that business owners understand that registering company names is different from trademarking them, as registering your business name doesn’t protect it against theft or competitor misuse. To ensure their company’s name and brand are legally protected, business owners are encouraged to trademark them.

In the same way you can trademark a company name, a business can have numerous trademarks on different products, phrases, logos, and other brand-related things to protect its brand identity and intellectual property.

DID YOU KNOW: The most common trademark infringement is clothing manufacturers attaching labels of well-known fashion brands to fake clothing and selling them as authentic.

How to Trademark a Company Name?

The process of registering a trademark for your company name is quick and easy, as business owners can file an application online in less than 90 minutes. You can register on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website— www.uspto.gov—without a legal representative.

Here’s a short step-by-step guide on how to trademark a name:

STEP 1 – Choose a Name

Before starting the trademarking process, you need to elect a name for your company or LLC. Once you’ve registered and trademarked your company name, it can be quite difficult to change it again, so it’s important to choose it carefully.

Follow these tips on how to choose a name for your LLC:

  • Pick a name that’s easy to remember and to spell
  • Pick a name that’s all-inclusive and that will encourage future growth
  • Choose a name that describes your business’ product or service
  • Don’t copy competitors
  • Keep it plain, short, and simple

If you can’t decide on an LLC company name or haven’t even started building your LLC, you can refer to credible LLC services.

STEP 2 – Search the Trademark Database

To make sure the name you’ve chosen is unique and not used by anyone else, you have to check the federal database. Here are the steps on how to find out if a name is trademarked:

  1. Visit the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (“TESS“) website and search for the name in question
  2. Search for similar names on the federal database as well, because your application can be denied if it’s too similar to an already-existing name

When there aren’t any similarities, you can continue on to the application.

STEP 3 –  File Application

When applying online, business owners can trademark company names that are already in commercial use. There are 10 simple components to trademark a company name application:

  1. Provide applicant’s name and address
  2. Provide information on the legal entity and citizenship of the applicant
  3. For future correspondence and communication, provide contact details
  4. Name, logo, slogan, phrase, or symbol that needs to be trademarked (if it’s not just a written name, the logo or symbol should be attached as a JPEG)
  5. A detailed description of the company name, logo, phrase, or symbol
  6. A list of all goods and services that should be covered by the trademark
  7. The class or type of goods or services
  8. Provide an example of the mark that is currently in commercial use as well as the date it was first used on
  9. Signature of applicant or authorized representative
  10. Payment of the trademark fee

After completing the application, applicants will receive a receipt with a unique serial number from the USPTO that can be used to check the application status.

STEP 4 – Seek Consultation

If you’re still unsure on how to trademark a business name, consult a registered agent for guidelines on how to form an LLC and trademark products and brand names.

DID YOU KNOW: Statistics gathered in 2019, state that there are a total of 893,760 registered trademarks in the U.S.

What Is a Trademark, Copyright, and a Patent?

Often used interchangeably by mistake, trademark, copyright, and patent are three with completely different meanings. For instance, you can’t copyright a business name, since copyrighting refers to the protection of artistic work. Completely understanding the difference between these three legal protection laws is important to ensure you take the right steps in protecting your intellectual property. To help you differentiate between the three, here’s a short summary of each:

Trademark ™ Copyright © Patent 
Helps to distinguish a service or product from its competitors Protects original work that is usually creative or intellectual Grants exclusive right to exploit, scale, and market an invention
Best for brands and companies Best for authors, artists, musicians Best for inventors
Lasts indefinitely Lasts between 70-170 years Lasts between 15-20 years
Examples: Words, names, logos, slogans, phrases, symbols, and colors Examples: Art, photography, music, books, films Examples: Technologies, musical devices, and appliances
Applications at USPTO Applications at the U.S. Copyright Office Applications at USPTO

To protect your intellectual property and guarantee someone doesn’t steal your work and claim it as theirs, you have to ensure you apply for the right kind of legal protection, whether its copyrighting or trademarking company names

DID YOU KNOW: Only 52% of all patent applications are approved.  A patent will only be approved when it reveals inventive ingenuity.

Key Takeaways

  • Consult with a registered agent if you aren’t sure on how to trademark a company name
  • Business owners can trademark their company names in less than 90 minutes on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website
  • Pick a company name that isn’t already in use or that’s not similar to a competitor’s
  • Gives legal rights and advantages in federal court
  • Copyrighting company names aren’t the same as trademarking
  • It costs between $250-$775 per trademark

Do I Need to Trademark My Business Name?

Although you’re not legally required to trademark your business’ name, there are many benefits to taking the steps to protect your brand by trademarking it. Not only is it a way to keep competitors at bay, but it’s also a great way to ensure consumers can differentiate between your product and someone else’s.

If your company or products have a unique name you don’t want anyone to copy, it’s in your best interest to follow the steps on how to trademark a business name.

A great example of this are the Drunk Elephant™ beauty products that have trademarked quirky names for shampoos and conditioners, some of which include Cocomino™, Wild Marula™, and T.L.C. Happi Scalp™.

Benefits of trademarking a name include:

  • Provides protection throughout the U.S.
  • Automatic rights in federal court regarding trademark infringement from a third-party
  • Legal right to use the registered trademark symbols – ™ and ®
  • Deters thieves from copying and using your company name and brand identity
  • Ability to register in foreign countries using U.S. priority date
  • A federal trademark registration proves that the mark is valid, giving advantages in court
  • Can claim and recover money lost in damages because of infringement
DID YOU KNOW:One of the most expensive company name trademark infringement cases was between the fashion house Louis Vuitton and the South Korean chicken restaurant Louis Vuiton Dak. The restaurant had to pay a $14.5 million fine for non-compliance after the first ruling when they changed the name to LOUISVUI TONDAK.

How Much Does it Cost to Trademark a Name?

Trademarking your business’ name is a simple and mostly inexpensive process. Although many consider different options on how to trademark a name for free, it’s always best to register your mark with the USPTO. The USPTO provides strong trademarks on a federal level that can be used for your common-law rights, guaranteeing a legal and credible trademark for your company name.

Even though there are third-party providers and agents available, the cheapest way to trademark a name is to go through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Fees are dependent on:

  • Number of trademarks you apply for
  • Class of services and goods

Applicants can only apply for one mark per application, and they have to pay for each class within an application, even if it falls under one name. There are two options for initial application fee for electronic filing:

  • Option 1 (TEAS Plus): $250 per class of services/goods
  • Option 2 (TEAS Standard): $350 per class of services/goods

Other fees include:

  • Filing declaration of use after 5 years: $225 per class
  • Declaration of incontestability and filing declaration of use after 5 years: $425 per class
  • Filing declaration of use and application for renewal every 10 years: $225 per class
  • Filing declaration of incontestability: $200 per class

More information can be found here.

DID YOU KNOW: You can make payments via EFT, deposit, and credit card to the USPTO for your company trademark.

Conclusion

It’s extremely important that business owners know how to trademark a name, since without a legal trademark, you’re putting your company’s name and products at risk. For as little as $250, you can register your mark and brand identity, and protect your intellectual property against copycats.

Strong trademarks ensure that companies can continue trading fairly within an industry ridden with thieves, and that consumers can identify your brand when compared to knock-offs.

FAQ

How Long Are Trademarks Good For?

Trademarks can last up to 10 years, after which they should be renewed.

How Much Does it Cost to Trademark a Business Name?

Depending on how many marks you want to register, classes within your application, and whether you’d like to renew the application after 5 or more years, it can cost anything between $250–$775 per trademark.

How Do I Trademark My Business Name for Free?

The only trademark that’s free is a ‘common law trademark’. Other than that, you can’t register a trademark for free, and it’s best to go through the right legal channels to ensure the protection of your company name.

Should I Trademark my Company Name?

Trademarking your company name is not legally required, but if you want to scale your business and ensure your intellectual property is safe, it’s advised to find out how to trademark a company name.

Should I Copyright or Trademark my Business Name?

You can’t really copyright a business name, since copyrighting applies to artistic and creative works. A trademark, on the other hand, can protect your company’s name and logo.

ABOUT AUTHOR

I’m an entrepreneur by profession and an artist by passion. I do business to pay the bills and make music to bring the thrills. Thanks to a bachelor in Business Administration, I'm well-versed in all things business. Owning a construction company certainly helps, too, but it also brings out my love for building and home protection.

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