Protecting your startup idea (your intellectual property) is crucial when creating a new brand. As you come up with a new name, logo or symbol, you want to make sure that no one else can use or copy your ideas. That’s where trademarking comes in.
Trademarks typically include things like words, phrases, designs and graphics that distinguish your business. These elements are often the first thing audiences notice about your brand, so it’s important to protect them from competitors. A trademark will grant you ownership of your company’s branding and provide legal protection.
Filing for a trademark for the first time can feel daunting, but the process is fairly straightforward. Read on or skip to the infographic below to learn how to trademark your startup.
Finalize your Name and Designs
Before you trademark any aspect of your brand, you should take time to fine-tune and finalize your designs. Making changes after you already have a trademark could be expensive and time-consuming, and it could cause your design elements to lack consistency. You should also ensure that you have submitted all of your LLC or corporation paperwork during this stage. If your paperwork is still incomplete, you won’t be able to register a trademark.
Consider Hiring an Attorney
Trademark attorneys are a great resource if you are filing for the first time. You can file your trademark yourself on The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website, but an attorney can make the process go much quicker and smoother. Because trademark attorneys have experience handling all aspects of trademarking, they can help you through every step of the process. Hiring an attorney can go a long way towards protecting your startup idea.
Search for Existing Trademarks
Once you have finalized your design, you’ll need to search for existing trademarks that are the same or similar to yours. This will ensure that your design isn’t too similar to one that is already being used and save you from future trademark disputes. The USPTO allows you to search for existing trademarks on their website, and a lawyer can assist you if you need help.
File and Monitor your Trademark
Once you have determined that your design won’t infringe on anyone else’s trademark, you can move forward with the registration process. You will start by filing an application with the USPTO. If you have an attorney, they can help you prepare your application and ensure that you fill it out correctly. Then, the USPTO will review your application and either approve or deny it for publication.
Once your application is approved and your trademark is officially registered, you should regularly monitor it for any infringement issues. To do this, check the USPTO filings to see if anyone has registered a trademark similar to yours. You can also hire someone to do this for you. If you catch a possible infringement issue, you should file an opposition to registration with the USPTO and hire a lawyer to represent you.
Registering your trademark can be a lengthy process, but it can protect your image and save you from having to rebrand in the future. The process of protecting your startup idea when creating a brand will set your business up for success.
Author Bio: Mike is a writer and creator who helps LegalZoom craft detailed content that explains complex litigation topics as simply as possible. His 10 years of experience in marketing and sales influence his love for storytelling.