When selecting a brand name, it is important to consider a few things before investing time and money in branding with a name. Carson Patents is a small business, so we understand how complex brand selection can seem to build a brand or business. Check out our article business name branding. In this article, we will discuss our best practices and the key tips and guidelines to brand selection.
Brand Selection – Business Name Search
If you are looking to trademark your business name in order to create a brand, it is crucial to conduct a thorough business name search. Skipping this step or conducting it in a poor manner can lead to a huge loss of time, money, and effort. Pouring resources into a business or brand that already exists and will be unable to be trademarked is not something you want to happen. Here is how you can avoid that.
In any state you are in, you should begin the process by visiting the website of your Secretary of State’s office. Similar to the first step in our 4 steps to trademark, you will need to conduct a business name search. This will ensure that the desired business name is not already reserved, in use, or too similar to an existing business name. A great place to begin your search is your state’s business registry where all entity names in that state are listed. There are also many databases with online tools to search business names.
This is not where your search should end. Thorough research of your desired business name will ensure the most successful outcome. Just because there is not a business entity with the same name in your state does not mean there are not similarly named local businesses. Businesses such as corporations, LLCs, sole proprietorships, and partnerships may all operate under a fictitious or assumed business name, “doing business as” (DBA). Some jurisdictions require businesses operate under a DBA prior to registering a business name. By checking these DBA registrations, you can find out whether there is another local business using your desired name.
Another important database to search can be found on the websites of both the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
This search is critical as a name could be trademarked without having been reserved or registered yet. Checking a trademark database will ensure that you do not infringe upon existing trademark rights. Read more about trademark infringement.
A domain name, or website URL, search can also prove to be very helpful when researching business names. Registering a domain name is one of the first steps to forming a business. This means another business could have gone the route of registering the domain name for their website prior to reserving or registering their business name in order to prevent others from acquiring it. Doing so is a good way to protect your brand presence online. There are many domain name databases where you can conduct your business name search, such as godaddy.com.
File a Business Name Reservation
Filing a business name reservation is one of the first steps you can do to begin the process of building a business or brand. Again, each state may differ in their name reservation process and procedures. Most states now offer online reservation services in addition to the option to file by mail.
A business name reservation secures the exclusive use of your desired entity name for a defined period of time before officially registering it. The purpose of a business name reservation is to ensure that the proposed name is available and to provide you with some time to complete the necessary steps to forming a business. Filing an available business name reservation is a great way to ensure the trademark registration process of a standard character mark.
Important Note: It is important to understand a business name reservation does not guarantee the name complies with all federal and state requirements related to a specific entity type. Names are reviewed for compliance at the time documents are submitted to the Secretary of State’s office for filing.
Each state has its own process for business name reservations, with varying terms and conditions, so certain aspects will depend on which state you plan to register your business. In some states like Minnesota, a reservation lasts for up to 12 months. However, other states implement a shorter duration, such as Georgia, where a business name reservation only lasts 30 days.
Reservations can typically be renewed to the same applicant. Each jurisdiction may differ in the renewal regulations. In California, an entity name reservation lasts 60 days. There must be at least 24 hours between reservation periods, meaning a name cannot be reserved for 120 consecutive days. Other states have different regulations such as Texas, where a name reservation may be renewed during the 30-day period preceding the expiration of the current reservation.
How can a Business Name Reservation Lead to a Standard Character Trademark?
If you are able to secure a business name reservation of your desired name, it almost guarantees the trademark registration of a standard character mark if done correctly. Reserving a business name provides temporary protection and exclusivity for that name within the jurisdiction where it is reserved. However, it does not automatically implement trademark rights or prevent others from using a similar mark in connection with their own goods or services. Filing for a trademark is what provides legal protection from infringement.
A domain name is the unique identifying address for your website on the internet. You can register a domain name by leasing your desired name through an accredited domain register. Domain names are leased, meaning you have the right to use it exclusively only for the duration of the registration period. Domain name registration must be renewed depending on the length of your registration period. For more information on domain name registration, check out our article business name branding.
How can a Domain Name Registration Assist in Trademark Registration?
The registration of a domain name can play a supporting role in registering a standard character trademark by establishing your business’s online presence. It is great news if you are able to secure a domain name that matches your desired business name. This move enhances your business’s brand identity and consistency, making it easier for consumers to recognize your goods and/or services. This brand recognition brings a credibility that you can use to your advantage when registering your desired trademark.
If your business name and domain name match, it helps in securing your brand by preventing the unauthorized use of said name. Other businesses will be dissuaded from using said name for their business as they will be unable to have a matching domain name for their website. This is an impactful deterrent because most businesses aspire to have a matching domain name to their brand in order to build credibility as a company.
Owning and using a domain name that corresponds to your desired trademark can serve as evidence in the trademark registration process. Evidence of prior use is required when applying for a trademark you claim to have been using in commerce. Already owning an associated domain name reiterates ownership of the mark and displays your intention to actively use and protect your desired trademark.
Important Tip: Registering a domain name does not automatically grant trademark rights, nor does it guarantee the successful registration of a trademark.
Benefits of Hiring an Attorney to Help Apply to Register your Trademark
Registering a trademark is an essential step in protecting your brand’s identity and ensuring that you have exclusive rights to use your brand name and logo. While it is possible to apply for a trademark on your own, there are several benefits to hiring a trademark attorney to help you through the process. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Expertise and Experience: Trademark attorneys have specialized knowledge and expertise in trademark law, which can be invaluable in navigating the trademark registration process. They have experience conducting comprehensive trademark searches, drafting trademark applications, responding to office actions, and resolving disputes that may arise during the registration process.
- Avoiding Common Mistakes: Applying for a trademark can be a complicated and time-consuming process, and there are several common mistakes that applicants can make. An experienced trademark attorney can help you avoid these mistakes, such as submitting an incomplete application or selecting a weak trademark, which can result in delays or even rejection of your application.
- Stronger Legal Protection: By hiring a trademark attorney, you can ensure that your trademark application is complete and meets all legal requirements. This can increase the chances of your trademark being approved and provide stronger legal protection for your brand.
- Faster Processing Times: A trademark attorney can help expedite the trademark registration process by ensuring that your application is complete and meets all legal requirements. This can help you obtain your trademark registration faster and avoid unnecessary delays.
- Cost-Effective: While hiring a trademark attorney may seem like an added expense, it can actually save you money in the long run. By ensuring that your trademark application is complete and meets all legal requirements, you can avoid costly legal disputes and infringement lawsuits down the line.