To make your business distinguishable, it’s important to focus on choosing and trademarking a business name early on; this is essential to securing ownership of your new company. Here are 3 steps to choosing the name of your business and protecting it under trademark law.
3 Steps for Trademarking a Business Name
- Pick a Name Category
A name has the power to invoke more than an image; it gives customers a feel for your culture, values and personality and provides for designation from where the goods or services originate. Your company name should fall into one of the following 4 categories:
- Functional/Descriptive: A functional business name reminds consumers what the brand does. It should include more than just description of your trade. A name including your company’s function like, “Caterpillar Construction” tells customers exactly what your specialty is.
- Invented: An invented company name can be catchy and draw a loyal following like “Google.” It can be fun and exciting, but make sure it accurately represents your brand or it will cause customer confusion. Avoid selecting a name that misrepresents the goods or services with which it is associated.
- Evocative: Some of the most well-remembered business names evoke strong feelings or memories just by hearing the word (think Yahoo!) If you’re aiming for this kind of trademark, choose a word that’s strong and short for a memorable impact.
- Experiential: An experiential name gives customers a full experience of the brand. Companies like these focus on selling a lifestyle in addition to a product or service. An example of this name is Magellan, the GPS and mapping service.
- Research Trademark Databases
After you decide what you want to communicate via your business name, you’ll have to trademark it to ensure ownership. It’s important to make sure the desired name isn’t the same or too similar from other existing companies. A name that is too similar to an existing registered mark will be refused by the examining attorney based on being too “confusing” to consumers. To research potential mark names, start by researching state and federal trademark databases. If the name you choose is already selected by another company, you will likely have to select a new name.
- Register the Trademark
Trademarking a business name can be done in 3 ways. The first is to register the new trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO reviews trademark applications and determines whether each application meets the requirements necessary for federal registration. This is the best way to secure the rights to your business name. You can also register by submitting to the state database or using the trademark in connection with selling goods and services.
As you navigate the process of forming your business, it’s important to comply with all state and federal regulations. For help obtaining licenses and permits, seek advice from an experienced attorney. Picking a category of business name, searching the trademark database and legally registering the trademark are all important steps to make when starting a business. For assistance in trademarking your company’s new name, contact your team at Structure Law Group today at 408-441-7500.
About Structure Law Group, LLP
Structure Law Group is a San Jose based law firm that serves its clients’ business, employment and real estate needs, including but not limited to business formations, debt and equity investments, employment agreements, commercial leasing and purchases, commercial contracts and related litigation.