A small business owner has no property rights unless they mark their business name. Sounds alarming? Well, it is. Registering your business or domain name does not give you any automatic right to use the name as a trademark.
Naturally, when people create an entity, one of their ultimate goals is to get their name out there and ensure that their brand is successful in the marketplace. Your name, logos and designs that identify your company name are an integral part of your brand.
In this regard, small business owners should ensure that their copyrights and trademarks are protected in their quest to take their business operations off the ground through advertising and marketing of their products or services.
A trademark gives the owner the right to take legal action for infringement against the owner of a business name that uses it for products or services such as those covered by its trademark.
The terms trade name and trade mark are closely related. Let’s first understand their differences.
It is used to distinguish your products or services from others. The registration of a trademark gives the registered owner exclusive rights to use the trademark within the stipulated geographic region.
A trade name represents the name under which a company operates. The registry only identifies the owners of the business. The registration of your name is mandatory and must be done before the company starts operating.
Unlike trademarks, a business name does not give the owner proprietary rights to use the name to perform work. If you have not registered your business name, it is wise to do so to avoid losing millions of dollars in the future in an attempt to protect it. In worst case scenarios, you may lose the rights to use it. Since your company’s trademark costs a few hundred dollars and the application can be completed in minutes, it is important that you register.
Why Trademarks Matter
Trademarks protect the names, words, sounds, colors, or symbols that distinguish your products and services from those sold or manufactured by third parties. Generally, if a small business owner operates in a small geographic area, they do not have to register their trademark. However, with the rise of e-commerce, selling your products or services over the Internet to other regions or states makes trademark protection crucial.
Sam, Trademark Attorney
“Today, everyone uses the Internet in one form or another, which, in my opinion, requires a federal registration,” said Sam. “Perhaps the fundamental benefit of obtaining a federal registration is the fact that it broadens your geographic reach, either across the country or across the state, depending on the type of registration you obtain.”
Trademarks avoid any type of confusion that may arise in the event that several companies use similar or equal names and / or logos. The trademark process legally sends a formal notice to others that your company owns exclusive rights to a certain name within a specific geographic location.
When your business name becomes famous, a person can use your business reputation to profit. For example, in 2005, the name MorganFreeman.com was registered by a company that wanted to attract visitors from those seeking information about the famous actor of the same name. Freeman decided to register his name and obtained the rights to the domain name.
The trademark process
As noted above, registering a trademark takes minutes and only requires a few hundred dollars. You can seek the assistance of a competent attorney to ensure that everything is done correctly. Keep in mind that you could lose millions of dollars in litigation when your company expands to become a large national chain.