What you should know about business name trademarks

There are many things business owners should know if they are thinking about trademarking their business name.

If you are starting a business in Texas, or you already own a business, you may not have given much thought to trademarking your business name. However, there are many advantages to having the name trademarked - the greatest of which, is that you have a lot more legal power if someone infringes on it. There are many components that make up the trademark process, starting with the name itself.

What a trademark is

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark sets a business's services or products apart from other companies. The trademark can be a device, a logo, a symbol or even a word. Many businesses use their business name as their identifying mark. Examples of trademarked business names include BMW, Coca-Cola, Louis Vuitton, Apple, Samsung and Nike.

Choosing the right name

Obtaining a trademark hinges on whether the name is already in use by another company. For example, someone is starting a shoe company and is planning to call it "High Kicks." However, there is another company already in business with the name "High Kickers" Since the names are similar and the companies are in the same industry, the second company would probably find it impossible to obtain a trademark.

The general rule is that the stronger or more unique the name, the easier it will be for a company to trademark it. One way to do that is to take a common name and turn it into a meaning for something completely different. Blackberry accomplished this by establishing a smartphone with the name of a fruit. Apple did the same thing with computers. Names that are made up are also going to have an easier time with trademarking. This is the strategy that Google took.

State registration

If people are not planning to expand their business beyond their town, county or even state, Entrepreneur magazine says that a state registration may be all that is needed to protect the name. The downside is that people cannot prevent that name from being used in another state. Furthermore, if that business took the step to federally register the name, the state business will not be able to branch out into other places later on, and it may even be forced to change its name or face infringement litigation.

Benefits of a federal trademark

Registering a business name with the USPTO is the most effective way that people can establish it as a trademark. Once this is accomplished, the business can use the trademark symbol to let other companies know that it is protected. If the company feels that another business has infringed on its trademark, it has the legal grounds to file litigation and seek appropriate damages for the harm caused. Having a federal trademark also opens the door for the company to sell its product or service in other parts of the world.

Dealing with an infringement, contract dispute or other legal problem can raise many questions for Dallas business owners. Therefore, they may find it helpful to discuss their situation with an attorney.