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Understanding the Best Time to Get a Trademark

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Filing a trademark application is critical for some businesses—and many entrepreneurs have questions about the process. Below are frequently asked questions and answers to help you navigate the somewhat confusing process:

When should you trademark your company?

The simple answer to this question is as soon as possible. It is best for business owners to begin the trademark application process as soon as they file their LLC or corporate paperwork. After all, filing for a trademark before actually launching a business means that you can guarantee that protection of your name begins before you start selling any goods and services. 

In addition to trademarking, business owners also must conduct a comprehensive trademark and name search. This search is conducted via the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database at https://www.uspto.gov/ and ensures that your company’s proposed name is not already in use by another company. 

While some business owners rely solely on a name search–which is conducted during the LLC/corporation application process–it is not wise to rely on this search alone. Keep in mind that the LLC/corporation name verification process only checks the company names in your specific state—and not names in the other 49 states. 

As a result, business owners run the risk of using another company’s name in another state if they choose to skip the comprehensive trademark search. And this has major consequences since your company could be forced to stop using your name if it infringes on another company’s name.  

What is the best time to trademark a product name or logo?

The answer to this question depends on when you choose to begin selling your product. If you have already started to sell your product, do not wait to file a use-based trademark application. 

However, for business owners who have yet to begin selling their product, it may make sense to wait. The reason for this is that “intent-to-use” (ITU) trademark applications–which are for business owners who plan to use particular professional names in the future–require owners to file another application that demonstrates evidence of use. And this application is associated with additional fees.  

As a result, business owners who are planning a product launch in the near future may want to wait until the launch is complete before filing a use-based application in order to save money.

However, it is very important to remember that waiting also comes with some consequences, such as another company applying for a similar name and beating you out on the name you were hoping to use. 

What are the advantages of filing first?

When the USPTO examines trademark applications, they review these based on the date of filing. Consequently, previously filed trademark applications are examined first, and subsequent applications are reviewed next. The bottom line is that filing first gives business owners the upper hand when it comes to approvals.

What is the difference between “use in commerce” and “intent to use”?

The USPTO provides business owners with a way to reserve a trademark for the future. When filing a trademark application, you must apply based on either “use in commerce” and “intent to use.” 

For businesses not yet using a trademark, the “intent to use” category allows them the opportunity to reserve the trademark without the fear of another business trying to register a similar trademark. As a result, it is very helpful to apply for an “intent to use” label as a way to protect your business.          

Once the USPTO processes and approves your application, you can expect to receive a Notice of Allowance, which is a conditional approval. And once you actually begin to use your trademark, you will need to submit additional paperwork in order to complete the registration process.

Is trademark registration costly?

Understanding all of the required costs is a vital part of trademarking. Below is some basic information to keep in mind: 

· Electronic filing is more affordable than paper filing

· E-filing costs about $250 to $350 per class

· Trademarking comes with a separate fee (logo, slogan, name), so if you trademark all three, you will pay about $750 to $1,050

· Petitions and letters of protest cost about $50 to $250

· Renewals typically cost about $300

To learn more detailed information about trademark fees, click this USPTO link.

Not only trademarking is vital in the business world, but registering for a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is an important step in protecting your company’s logo, name, or slogan. In the words of world-renowned artist Primo Angeli, “A great trademark is appropriate, dynamic, distinctive, memorable and unique.”

Trademarking your business is only half of the equation. As you begin the process of trademarking, it is also crucial to form your LLC before you launch your business to the public. This will give you peace of mind knowing that your brand and personal assets are protected. At NCH, we have a team of business specialists that will guide you through every step of the LLC process. Call us at 1-800-508-1729 to learn more!

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