What is a trademark, and how can you confirm that no one else has acquired a trademark on the company name you want?

What you’ll discover:

What exactly is a corporate trademark?
What are the benefits of trademarks?
What are the ramifications of trademark infringement?
How can you be certain that you are not infringing on a trademark while selecting a company name?
Can you use a company name that is already in use in another state?

It is an exciting moment to start a new company. You create signs with your new logo, launch advertising campaigns, and begin bringing consumers in—and you are overjoyed with the results. In a few months, business is booming.

One day, you open your company’s mail and discover that you have received an envelope from a legal firm. Enclosed is a cease and desist letter stating that you have stolen the name or image of another firm and demanding that you stop operating under your business name or face legal action.

This sort of event might be frightening, but it is also avoidable. As a new business owner, you should choose a business name that not only fits your firm but is also unique. How do you confirm that no one else is using your company’s name?

What exactly is a corporate trademark?

A trademark is a legally protected phrase, symbol, or design that is used to identify products or services from a certain company. It is used to differentiate certain products or services and highlight that they are the firm’s product when branding a product or company.

Some of the most frequent instances of trademarks are:

Company names (for example, “Boeing” or “The Home Depot”).
Symbols that reflect the brand (for example, the Apple logo or the golden arches of McDonald’s).
Advertisements or slogans (for example, the Nike slogan “Just do it”).
Figures or mascots (for example, the Geico Gecko or the Energizer Bunny).
Jingles or lyrics (for example, the “break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar” jingle).
Names, forms, or colors of products (for example, “Frisbee” or the T-Mobile Magenta color).

A certain typeface, for example, may be trademarked.

What are the benefits of trademarks?

Having a trademark protects different components of your firm from being used by others. Trademarked goods or services are often what distinguishes a company in a crowded market.

They also advise businesses to utilize consistent brand message across all goods and services. In this approach, the firm is driven to develop a high-quality product or service in order to build good brand associations.

What are the ramifications of trademark infringement?

The act of infringing on a trademark is frequently referred to as “trademark infringement.” It may result in a variety of legal implications.

Injunction. The other company may seek a court injunction to prevent you from using their trademarked business name.
Seizure. Assume the trademarked information appears on a product. In such instance, the court might order the seizure of the items that infringe on the trademark, which can cost you money in product development, inventory, and other areas.
Financial losses. The other company may also seek that you compensate them for any damages caused by your use of their trademarked name.

How can you be certain that you are not infringing on a trademark while selecting a company name?

Choosing a company name is important, and you should invest some time and effort establishing a name that is appropriate for your product or service. It is a good idea to do some research to see whether another company has the same or a similar name.

You may begin your trademark search by doing a basic web search. If you type your proposed company name into a search engine and numerous other firms with similar names emerge, you may want to change your name. Although you may not be infringing on any trademarks, you do not want your firm to be mistaken with another.

A formal trademark search may be conducted by visiting the US Patent and Trademark Office’s website and selecting the Search Trademarks option. This website allows you to see not only existing registered trademarks, but also pending applications. Since our search covers the whole United States, you have very little danger of infringing on a trademark if your company name is not mentioned.

Can you use a company name that is already in use in another state?

It might be highly confusing to share a name with another organization. Even if you and the other company are on separate ends of the nation, difficulties might arise. A duplicate company name might become even more of an issue when it becomes easy to purchase things and have them transported elsewhere.

When you start a company, the name must be registered in your state. If the name of your firm is identical to that of another corporation, your Secretary of State (or equivalent body) will not allow you to register it. The state, however, does not conduct a trademark search. That is, you may not have a duplicate name in your state, but you may have issues outside of it.

If you know your firm will only operate in one state, having another company with the same or similar name may not need a name change. Alternatively, consider asking the following questions:

Is the other company present in my state? Is it feasible that it will happen in the future?
Is the other company in the same industry as you?
Is the other firm offering comparable goods and services?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should seriously consider changing your name. If not, your state may not have any serious problems. Keep in mind, however, that being allowed to register your firm in your state does not prevent you from also infringing on someone else’s trademark. Instead, if the company name is protected by a trademark, you should avoid it.

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