Filing a trademark application should be at the forefront of any new entrepreneur’s mind. However, thinking about expending valuable capital on a trademark application at the onset of a business may seem counterintuitive. But in fact, it can be a practical cost-saving decision. Specifically, it can help promote the business and ensure that it is successful from an intellectual property standpoint.
Specifically, all too often, businesses spend significant time and money building and promoting a brand only to find out that the brand they have been investing in is “unavailable.” In other words, someone else is already using the name for similar goods and/or services. This results in the business having to rebrand, costing exponentially more capital at a time when the business should be investing in growing.
Once filed, a trademark application will be assigned to an examining attorney at the USPTO about 3-months after filing. At that point, the examining attorney will evaluate the application to ensure that it meets all of the requirements for trademark protection. One of those elements ensures that the mark is not confusingly similar to another currently registered or pending mark. If the examining attorney believes that the application does not meet the requirements they will issue a refusal to register. While receiving a refusal to register (e.g., Office Action) is not the end of the road, it will require a detailed response.
But I’m Not Currently Using My Brand Name in Commerce. Can I still file?
That is perfectly okay! The United States is one of a few jurisdictions that does not require actual use to apply for a trademark. Specifically, applicants can file a trademark application based on a “bonafide intent-to-use” the applied-for mark in commerce.
Accordingly, once you have a brand name that you would like to market and sell your goods and/or services under, you are ready to file an application. However, it is highly advisable that you (or an experienced trademark attorney) at least perform a brief trademark search before filing to help eliminate any potential issues down the road.
Overall, it is never too early or too late to file a trademark application and protect your brand. By filing for a registered trademark, you can secure your brand’s dominance in the marketplace. Having a registered trademark also helps ensure that name is available to use.
By not having to potentially rebrand your business later down the road, filing early on can help save potentially thousands of dollars and countless headaches. Furthermore, by not having to rebrand down the road you don’t have to “reeducate” your consumers to a new brand. Start your business strong from the start and ensure the success of your business’s future. Trademark early and often.