Overhead view of artist developing a logo design
Business names, logos, products and labels can all be trademarked. There are multiple benefits of trademarking your business name. Learn how to get started, here. — Getty Images/Chaosamran_Studio

In our Startup2021 series, we're helping aspiring entrepreneurs navigate the new business climate of the COVID-19 era. Each week, we'll share an in-depth look at one step you can take toward launching your business in 2021.

A common way to protect your intellectual property (IP) and business is by trademarking it. Business names, logos, products and labels can all be trademarked. What are the benefits of trademarking your business name and how do you get started? In this article, we explain how trademarks benefit a business, the steps to trademarking a business name and more.

What are the benefits of trademarking a business name?

Once you gain ownership of your trademarked business name, you have legal ownership of the mark with the right to use it throughout the United States in reference to your products or services.

Here are some additional benefits of trademarking your business name:

  • Provide clarity:Trademarking your business name keeps your consumers from becoming confused with another business, which could affect your sales.
  • Prevent legal action: If you and another business have the same or similar name within your industry, there’s potential that you could open yourself up to lawsuits or legal actions without a trademark. Once you register, you’ll be able to take legal action if another business uses your business name.
  • Attract investors: Investors are more likely to contribute funds to your business if you have a trademarked business name, as you can provide proof of ownership.
  • Build your brand: Trademarking creates brand identity by utilizing aligned logos, fonts and colors alongside the trademarked name. Building a strong brand with a trademarked business name allows you to influence how your consumers will feel when they see your brand.

If you don’t trademark your business, you may be open to legal trouble if another business has a similar name to yours — especially if they’ve trademarked it — and you may be forced to rename your business entirely. Additionally, your business name won’t have the potential to be nationally recognized or given protection without a trademark.

Your trademark may expire if you don’t fill out these documents in time. It’s also important to check the status of your trademark each year through USPTO’s system.

Differences between trademark, copyright and patent

The main purpose of a trademark is to clearly identify one business from another. Trademarks limit the competition between those with similar names and prevent confusion among consumers. Trademarks generally last 10 years.

Copyrights are rights that are given for a particular creation such as a song, book or movie. Copyright protects the repurposing and distribution of the original work. Copyrights are valid for the entirety of the creator’s life and continue 70 years after death.

Patents, on the other hand, are granted to inventors to keep others from reproducing, selling or creating their invention. Patents are usually valid for 20 year periods.

[Read: Intellectual Property | Patent, Copyright and Trademark Laws]

How to trademark a business name

  • First, decide if a trademark is right for you or if you should pursue another avenue. You’ll need a trademark if you’re looking to protect your brand’s name. If you have an invention or project you’re looking to protect, you may be better off with a patent or copyright protection.
  • Next, you must choose the mark to submit to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Ensure the name or phrase you’re attempting to trademark will be accepted by the USPTO and how to differentiate your mark enough for protection.
  • Once you’ve found a suitable trademark name, prepare then submit an application to the USPTO. Create an account, fill out the application forms and track your application status through USPTO’s system.
  • After the minimum application requirements are accepted, you’ll be assigned to a USPTO attorney. They will review your application and ensure its validity; this may take a few months. The attorney might contact you if they need additional information.
  • You’ll then receive either approval in a weekly publication of the USPTO or a rejection letter. If your application was rejected, you can appeal the final decision for a fee.
  • To maintain your mark, you must file maintenance documents two months after USPTO sends a registration. Your trademark may expire if you don’t fill out these documents in time. It’s also important to check the status of your trademark each year through USPTO’s system.

[Read: How to Trademark Your Business Name]

Trademarking alternatives

If you don’t want to or are unable to trademark your business name for some reason, there are other ways to protect it. For example, if you register as an LLC or corporation within your state, it’s prohibited for another company to adopt your business name. If you cannot form an LLC, you may be given the same protections if you register for a trade name or DBA within your state.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners’ stories.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

A message from
You’re invited to join a private network of CEOs.
Discover how 45,000 CEOs are growing their businesses. Connect with verified companies on a secure private network to find new clients, raise money and find reliable solutions for any business priority.
Learn More
Published June 14, 2021