Registering Your Trademark

You will want to protect your business reputation as soon as you can. There are several legal options to help you protect your reputation and brand, but a trademark is one of the most powerful. 

Major Benefits of Registering a Trademark:

  • Having a U.S. registered trademark will make it easier for you to get international protection for your trademark in some countries.
  • You will have a clear legal tool to stop competitors from using your mark and taking advantage of your reputation and brand recognition.
  • The trademark will give you protection in all 50 U.S. states, which means you don't have to worry when you grow your business into other states. 

Why & How to Register a Trademark

A trademark might sound a bit complicated and vague at first, but it protects exactly what it sounds like, the mark of your trade. When you are in business, you want to be sure that people associate only your brand name with your quality of service and goods. If you realize someone else is using your same business name, they might be taking advantage of your business reputation. But be careful, there's always the chance that you didn't do an thorough search of other business names before you started your own business and perhaps you unintentionally started using someone else's business name!

One of the best things to do before starting a business is to contact an attorney who specializes in trademarks and can assist you in making sure the name you worked so hard to choose is not already owned by someone else. A good business lawyer who has experience in trademarks can help you consider different names if there appears to be a potential conflict. He/she can also assist you in filing a trademark to protect your good business name. 

Getting a trademark can be a complicated process. You will want someone familiar with the lengthy process making sure everything is done right the first time. In the end, hiring an attorney will save you both time and money. If you try to file on your own but do not get your trademark application approved, you could be in for a lot of expenses that yielded you absolutely nothing. The US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) does not give refunds for applications that do not go through.

Responding to an Office Action Response

 It is very possible after you or your attorney file your trademark, you receive what is called an Office Action Response (OAR)  from the USPTO. An Office Action Response is generally some form of objection to your registration from the examining USPTO attorney. It is very normal and is not a cause for concern, as long as you know how to properly respond to the Office Action Response. If you did a sufficient search at the beginning of the process for any trademarks that might be in conflict with your own, then the Office Action Response will most likely be a request for additional use of your mark in use. Though, this process, like the rest of the trademark registration process, should be given a lot of attention to detail. It would be advisable to get a good business lawyer comfortable with trademarks to respond to any Office Action Response, otherwise you may risk losing your money and your trademark registration. 

Different Classes and Filing Basis

You can still file to register your trademark even if you are not yet using it in business. Though, you will need to do a 1B filing basis (as opposed to 1A filing basis), which simply means you need to pay an extra fee (typically about $125) and that you intend to use your mark in business in the next six months. Also, you can likely pay a lower fee overall for your trademark if you can meet certain requirements set by the US Patent & Trademark Office. You can file for the cheapest registration form (the TEAS Plus form) if your trademark falls under a good/service already described in the US Patent & Trademark Office Identification Manual. Chances are high that it does. So for instance, if you are trying to trademark your brand name for goods that are "dietary supplements for human consumption," which is a category already listed in the USPTO Identification Manual, then you can list under that category and potentially save yourself significant money. 

Our attorneys at GoodBusinessLawyer.com have filed several trademarks and have dealt with countless Office Action Responses. If you are looking for efficient, affordable trademark services, then please reach out to us for assistance. You can email us at goodbusinesslawyer@gmail.com 

Check out some famous trademarks below!

The Importance of Formal Legal Paperwork for Even “Super Early” Startups

Often, friends decide they want to go in on a startup together. They may have known each other for a long time and have gotten along well and even admire each other's work. Inevitably, there will be misunderstandings down the road. Life happens. Perhaps one friend gets a job offer they weren't expecting, or perhaps the company manages to convince an angel to invest some money, or perhaps someone ends up pulling way more hours than the others. In a startup, you don't get paid. And if you're doing it correctly, you're probably terrified of all the time that you're spending and all the money you're missing out on if you just went to take a large company offer. Your best bet in protecting your friendship and the company is to create formal legal documentation before you take a deep dive into anything. Ideally, you do this before you do an ounce of actual work for the company – as soon as you have the concept in mind. It doesn't need to be a a huge pain or even expensive. Despite what you've been told, lawyers can add tons of value (especially when they save you lots of legal expenses down the road due to disagreements that initial legal work could have prevented).

I can think of countless times I have heard of startup clients going to a lawyer and lamenting all the problems they now face because they wanted to avoid the perceived inconvenience and laborious task of executing formal legal paperwork. They almost all kick themselves, because by trying to avoid the “annoying legalese,” they have wound up needing to spend much more time, effort, and emotional exhaustion on resolving major issues.

Almost any decent corporate/startup attorney can draft together a basic set of documents for you for very reasonable cost. This should cost no more than $1,500, and you can find good business lawyers who will do it for significantly less. If someone's charging you over that, you're getting overcharged. And $1,000 might seem like a lot, but if you consider most firms are going to charge you $400 an hour or more to straighten out an equity disagreement down the road, you can end up hitting close to 10x or more what you would have paid initially. We have attorneys at www.GoodBusinessLawyer.com who can set you up with the legal docs you'll need the most for roughly $600-1000. It doesn't take much time to execute basic startup docs. You'll want bylaws, a certificate of incorporation, IP agreement, board consent, and a stock purchase agreement – just to name the bare minimum. And you'll also want to figure out how you should incorporate, which is the subject of another post.

Save yourself time, money, and a ton of stress. If you believe in your startup, then take the time to get it started on the right track. If your reasoning is that you'll wait to get funding before you deal with the legal work, then know this: Any decent investor will most likely not go near you with a ten-foot pole if you don't have your legal work in order. Startups are risky enough without having tons of fundamental legal paperwork missing from the equation.