What Small Business Owners Need To Know About Trademarks

Posted on: 3 August 2020

Do you own a small business and worry about other companies stealing your identity?  If so, it helps to have a crash course in trademarking your intellectual property.

What Can Your Company Get Trademarks For?

As a business owner, you have the ability to create unique symbols or words that are associated with your brand or products that you sell. This includes your company logo, slogans that represent your business, designs that are used to identify products, and verbiage used to describe services.  

Why Should Your Company Create Trademarks?

If you have a customer that had a good experience with your company or a service, those trademarks help a customer recognize your company and what you offer. For example, if you own a restaurant and have a signature chicken sandwich that you offer, calling it a chicken sandwich makes it generic and hard to remember. However, giving the sandwich a unique name can make the sandwich more memorable and associate it with your business. By trademarking the name, other restaurants cannot use the name of your sandwich to advertise their products and cause confusion with consumers. 

How Do You Research Trademarks?

Many people get a lawyer involved in the trademark process to do the research regarding trademarks. After all, you cannot trademark something that someone has already trademarked or has an existing application for. That's why the research component of the trademark process is so important: so you do not waste time and money trademarking something that will not be allowed. 

A basic step is to start with Internet searches to see what is out there. Try searching for your specific slogan or phrase in quotes to see if it already exists in some form. If not, you can move onto the next step. There is a trademark database that will let you know what trademarks are pending and already trademarked.

While it can be very easy to find a slogan, it can be much harder to find logos and things that are more subjective. It is also possible that a trademark is in the system but has not been used in so long that the trademark has been abandoned. In that situation, you can actually apply for the trademark and claim it as your own. 

Feel like you're ready to start trademarking ideas for your business? Meet with a trademark lawyer in your area. It is the best way to ensure that you are doing everything properly.