SUCCESS is reader-supported. We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.
Trademarks provide one of the best ways for a new business to establish its brand, immediately communicating your unique company name and playing a key role in building its identity and reputation. In fact, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark not only uniquely identifies your goods and services, but further provides legal protection for your brand. For the best legal protection nationwide, however, a trademark should be federally registered.
If you are considering using a registered trademark to grow your brand visibility, you likely have a lot of questions. Let’s consider first the benefits of owning your own company trademark before exploring the best options for trademark registration.
Key benefits: how a trademark helps build and protect your business
Trademarks uniquely identify and build your brand.
Even a simple trademark can pack a lot of information. That’s because they can consist of words, a phrase, a logo or even a design (such as packaging), any of which can be combined into a single trademark. This makes trademarks a highly effective communications tool. They not only identify your business, but get you started in communicating your story or product line. A trademark identifies you at a glance, helping you stand out from the competition and providing a strong competitive edge for your brand.
Trademarks add value to your business.
That strong brand identity, of course, helps increase revenue and adds value to your business. But the trademark itself grows in value too. Consider Amazon.com as an example. The trademark appears simple: the word amazon with an arrow leading from a to z, which also doubles as a smile. Furthermore, the word “amazon” serves as the domain name of the public-facing company website. That’s a lot of information and meaning in a small space. Without the trademark, the company would be far less recognizable. In fact, some design elements have been carried over to other Amazon enterprises such as Amazon Web Services.
Registering your trademark provides legal protections.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, “You become a trademark owner as soon as you start using your trademark with your goods or services.” Those rights are, however, limited. For instance, they apply only to the geographic area where your goods or services are provided. That fact alone presents challenges should you ever hope to expand, and the issue is further complicated by e-commerce businesses that exist entirely or chiefly on the world wide web. Additionally, not registering your trademark leaves you open to others copying or mimicking it. Without proper registration, the burden of proof of initial ownership would likely lie on you. If it’s your opening day, that may mean going back to the drawing board, contracting another designer or even changing the company name. That’s bad enough by itself, but imagine how much worse it would be if it happened after 10 years of reputation building!
You ensure your trademark is not already in use.
Registration also provides another major legal protection—by registering your trademark, you ensure that something similar is not already in use. Does it seem likely that someone will use the exact same logo? Maybe not, but what about the same catchphrase or company name? Any of these may lead to legal action which costs money both in legal fees and lost business. You may even have to pay the claimant for damages. And remember, all of this comes on top of having to start over with your established brand identifier—your trademark. Registration helps ensure that every element of your trademark lies within your legal rights to use.
Trademark registration never expires.
When starting your new business, it might seem difficult to think more than a few years ahead. But imagine your business takes off. Maybe it’s even something that builds over generations. Unlike patents, you never have to worry about your trademark expiring unnoticed or about being hounded for updates and additional fees. Your trademark registration will never expire.
Benefits of using a trademark protection service to register
Registering a trademark yourself through the United States Patent and Trademark Office can be a difficult process with tedious legal paperwork. But a far greater risk comes with registering a trademark yourself: there are no guarantees after filing that a similar trademark is not already registered or in use. Yes, you may be denied registration of your trademark—but you’ll still have to pay the fees, and pay them once more when you start the process all over again!
A trademark registration and protection service helps mitigate these concerns. LegalZoom, for instance, provides trademark registration paperwork and services along with other legal assistance.
Better still, consider a company exclusively dedicated to digital trademark protection. Digip makes the process much simpler with an easy-to-use search and submission platform and a 95% registration success rate. Compare that to only 40% when doing it yourself. Plus, Digip provides application by attorney and trademark surveillance to help ensure your brand is not tarnished by copycats. With Digip, you can also search and register your company’s web domain. Combining these services makes your digital brand identifiable from end-to-end—domain to digital trademark registration—just like the top brands you know.
Whichever method you choose, registering your trademark will greatly enhance your brand identity in the long run. It will also protect you from accidentally copying existing names and designs while ensuring your brand remains distinct throughout the life of your company.
Photo by @crystalmariesing/Twenty20.
Learn more by visiting digip. digip