Registering the trademark for your business name is one of those low-priced, high value actions you can take to secure your success.
So what exactly is a trademark and why do I need one?
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies the source of goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods.
Trademarks and service marks (I’ll call them “marks” for simplicity in this article) help the public to know who made the product or stands behind the service, and represent a company’s goodwill and reputation. Once you have a registered mark, you can carry on your business with the knowledge that you can legally defend your right to use the business name from copycats.
As a company owner, you may be able to register your company name as either a state mark, a federal mark, or both. Key factors you’ll need to consider are where you are using the mark, how you are using the mark, and what legal protection you desire/require.
Florida State Registration
If you’re using your business name in the State of Florida, you can apply for a Florida state trademark or service mark registration as long as nobody else has previously registered the same mark for the same type of business in Florida. What’s great about this protection is that registering a mark in Florida is relatively quick and inexpensive. Also, regardless of when you apply for the registration, Florida registrations protect you from the first date of use.
You do need to show that the mark is used by submitting samples of how and where you display the mark. For trademarks, you can submit samples of the mark affixed to products such as labels, decals, tags, wrappers, boxes, and containers. For service marks, you can submit samples that reflect the type of service being provided including business cards, brochures, flyers, and newspaper advertisements.
It’s important to understand that registration of a mark only protects you in the categories of goods and/or services in which your business operates. You apply for (and pay for) all matching categories at the time of registration. For example, if your business provides education and training, your service mark registration would protect just that category; but would not protect your name, for example, in a musical instruments category. The good news is you can identify various categories (“classes”) to apply for registration (you pay for each); and add new categories if your business expands in the future to other areas.
If you’re using your business name in the sale or transport of goods or the rendering of services in “interstate” commerce between more than one state or U.S. territory, or in commerce between the U.S. and another country, you can potentially apply for a Federal Trademark or Service Mark registration if nobody else has previously federally registered the same mark for the same type of business.. Federal registration provides additional benefits in that it gives you the ability to record the U.S. registration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods; the right to use the federal registration symbol “®”; the ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court; and the use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries.
Aside from the expanded geographic scope, federal registration is similar to Florida state registration; however, federal trademark registration is more complex and costs more.
Similar to Florida state mark registration, Federal registration also requires you show that you are using the mark. For goods, the mark must appear on the goods (e.g., tags or labels), the container for the goods, or displays associated with the goods. For services, the mark must be used in the sale or advertising of the services.
One good news: the categories of business protection (classes) is the same for federal as Florida state registration, simplifying that part of the task.
So now you know just a little bit more about protecting your company name. Protect your passion by applying to trademark your company name today!
Do you need help Trademarking Your Company Name, Logo, Slogan, or Product? We’re here for you. Contact us here.