Starting a business can be exciting. You finally get to execute the ideas you’ve had for a long time. But this stage can also be overwhelming for any entrepreneur. A single mistake involving any aspect of the business, including trademarks, can cost you significantly.
Below are three things to consider regarding trademarks when forming a business:
Conduct an online search
You may have an idea for an appealing name, logo, slogan or color combination, but another business may be using it already. It’s not uncommon for two business owners to have the same idea.
Thus, you should search the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) trademark database to see if your chosen trademark has already been registered.
If a registered trademark is similar to yours, used on related products/services and live, you can’t use it. If you do, the other business may have grounds to take legal action against you.
Search state trademark databases and the internet
Some businesses’ trademarks are not registered in the USPTO’s database, but the companies have rights over them. Thus, you should also search state trademark databases and the internet.
Register your trademark
If your trademark has not been registered in any of the databases, you should register it. This allows you to use it exclusively. Accordingly, you can take action against another business that infringes your rights.
If you have not used the mark in commerce yet, which is likely since you are a start-up, you can file an application to register your trademark with an intent-to-use (ITU) filing basis. Doing this ensures your trademark is protected while you complete other obligations before launching the business.
Forming a business can be complicated. And starting with legal troubles can negatively impact your experience. You should seek legal guidance to avoid costly mistakes.