For many business starters, trademarking a name is often ignored at the beginning of their business. Actually, legal issues require the help of professional lawyers. And nobody want to hire a lawyer at the beginning to save money.
The fact is, however, that some legal issues can’t wait. Trademarking your company name is a good example. In reality, trademarking the name of your company is easy and inexpensive, you need take to start protecting your company and its intellectual property (IP).
Trademark vs Company name
A trademark, is a symbol, word, slogan, design, color, logo or voice that identifies the source of a product or service, and distinguishes it from those products made and services provided by others. It presents a kind of product or service.
For the company name, it is one name that showed on the certification of the company. In China, it is usually ended with CO., LTD. You can have a nice company name when you file company registration in China. The best name is that you can choose this name as your trademark in later trademark registration too. So lots of work you need do to confirm its availability.
In fact, it is usually difficult to find one best name, that is why most of companies have their trademark name and company name in different. But for famouse companies, they most choose one name for business development in China, such as Apple, Huawei, Ford, Harley, google and so on.
Steps to trademark your company name
Make your mark
The first thing you need to decide is what kind of trademark you prefer. You can apply your company name as trademark, you can choose company name in short as trademark, you can re-design company name as one photo to apply as trademark. You also can choose one voice such as Nokia company which registered the phone turn on voice we heared.
Remember, though, that your trademark must be unique enough to distinguish yours from other trademarks already in use.
Do trademark search
You can go to offical website to complete the online registration form, check the site’s Trademark Electronic Search System (“TESS”) database to make sure another company hasn’t already registered an identical or similar mark for the same categories of goods or services you offer.
U.S. trademark protection is granted to the first entity to use a particular mark in the geographic area where it operates, regardless of whether the mark is registered. But if your chosen mark is already registered by another company — even if you used it first — your registration will be rejected and you’ll probably want a lawyer to help you proceed.
In China, there is some difference, China is first file country, if you use the mark for long time, but not yet register the mark. When you find same or similar mark is registered in your searching process, you will loose the chance to win this mark, even you hired one lawyer to help you. That is why we emphasize to do lots of work to choose one best name.
Prepare and file application
File the application online or by your lawyer. This is depended by yourself, remember to apply the goods or services in your industry Niche classes. The fees are different from China and USA. For seurity, hiring one legal trademark office to help you to avoid mistakes online.
Wait for review
Once your application is submitted, the USPTO will assign an examiner to review your application, and the review process starts. The total process will spend three months to finish since the examiner will go through lots of marks in database to determine the validity of your prefered mark.
You may be asked by the examiner to make modfication to your application, answer more questions or file additional documents like pictures. It is therefore crucial that you keep tabs on your application and update all important contact information throughout the process. Failure to response will result in the need to reapply for your trademark.
Receive your mark
If the examiner finds no basis to object to your mark, he or she will approve the trademark for publication in the “Official Gazette,” a weekly publication of the USPTO. Parties who believe that the mark will infringe on their own trademark have thirty (30) days from the publication date to file an objection or apply to extend the time to oppose the trademark. If an opposition is filed, the matter will move to the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) for resolution. If no opposition is filed, or at the time that all oppositions have been resolved in the applicant’s favor, then one of two events will occur:
If the trademark is based on use, the USPTO will register the mark and send the applicant/owner a certificate of registration.
If the trademark is based on intent to use (i.e., ha not previously been used), the USPTO will issue a Notice of Allowance regarding the mark. The applicant will then have six months to use the mark and file a Statement of Use, or file an extension request. Once the “use” test is resolved, the USPTO will register the mark and send the applicant/owner a certificate of registration.
Renewal and maintainance
After registration of your trademark, you must take certain steps to maintain your registration. In China, it takes after 10 years to renewal your trademark to keep it active. If you change your company name, address or other information, you also need to renew it. Same rules are in USA.
In the renewal process, there is little difference in USA, the mark owner need declare the mark used in business in the 5th year after the trademark is registered, and 10 years later to renewal it again.
If you meet any problem in trademarking a name, please feel free to talk with our professional lawyers. We will provide guides and suggestions for you regarding what you concern in your IP protection.