How do you make your business stand out from your competitors? To start, you need a name. And once you choose that perfect name for your biz, you also need to trademark it so it’s not confused for another brand. But did you know that trademarks can be used for much more than just your business name?
From product names to taglines to unique frameworks, there are lots of other things in your business that you can — and probably should — trademark. Read on to find out what you might wanna consider trademarking for your biz.
A trademark is a word, phrase, or symbol that distinguishes the goods of your company from another. (Don’t get trademark confused with copyright, which protects your creative works from others.)
There are two kinds of trademarks: unregistered and registered. An unregistered trademark hasn’t been approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), but you still have “common law” rights. That little ™ you see next to a business name or product means it’s unregistered. Our Trademarks on Tap course is a good example of this one.
A registered trademark is, just like it sounds, registered and approved by the USPTO. A registered trademark is indicated by the Ⓡ mark next to a name, like you see next to The Contract Shop®! Your trademark lasts for 10 years and will need to be renewed after that.
We already know you can trademark your business name, but you should also think about trademarking:
That’s not all you can trademark. If you use or offer any of these through your biz, you might wanna trademark them too:
Unregistered and registered trademarks offer you some protection from another company using a similar logo, trying to sell similar products, or using similar branding (phrases, taglines, sounds) for their own business. Your trademarked things show clients and potential customers that you’re credible — you mean serious business.
You can’t trademark anything and everything for your biz, though. The USPTO doesn’t allow you to trademark:
Fun fact: “Scandalous” or “immoral” words and symbols were not allowed to be trademarked until 2019, when a Supreme Court ruling lifted that ban!
Now that we’ve covered what a trademark is and what you can protect with it, how do you actually come up with a trademark-worthy name for your business? Here are a few tips:
A sticky name is unique, eye-catching, and harder for your audience to forget. For example, Google is a memorable name because it’s an invented word: there are no other brand names like it out there.
You don’t wanna get sued for taking another brand’s name, do you? Likewise, you don’t wanna spend tons of time creating your logo, website, and marketing materials, only to be threatened with a legal letter from a similarly named company, telling you to rebrand your biz.
This is your business, and you’re gonna be talking, thinking, and reading your biz name countless times in the foreseeable future. If you run out of time picking a name or just go with one youdon’tlove to get it over with, we promise you it’ll come back to haunt you.
Need more tips on naming? We put together a more detailed, four-part series on how to name your stuff on the blog!
Trademarking things for your biz may seem like a hassle when you already have so much on your plate, but trust us, you’ll want to get these steps right as early as you can. Establishing ownership of your business not only protects you legally, but it shows clients that you’re serious about what you do.
We hope that laying out all the details of trademarking your business helped you understand why it’s so important and what your next step is. But if your head is still spinning with all this trademark talk, our Trademarks on Tap course is for you!
Trademarks on Tap is an in-depth, detailed course that’ll walk you through naming and trademarking your business, course, or services. No need to hire an expensive lawyer to do it, nor do you have to navigate the scary trademarking process completely alone. We’ve got your back when you join Trademarks on Tap.
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