Step 1: Conduct a Trademark Search
You may come across a great idea for a business name, but first you should make sure that you will not be infringing upon a prior user's trademark. The first step is to conduct a trademark search by using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).
This search engine allows you to search the database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Once you have completed your search and the results uncover no likelihood of confusion, then you will be ready to proceed.
If you fail to follow this step, it can potentially lead to disaster for your business in many ways. Imagine if you had to recall all of your products because of a demand by a prior trademark user. Not only that, but you can end up paying the other party's attorney fees and monetary damages, which can get very costly.
If you decide to own a federal trademark, your business will have several advantages, such as:
- Public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark
- A legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration
- The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court
- The use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries
- The ability to record the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods
- The right to use the federal registration symbol ®
- Listing in the USPTO online databases
For more trademark information, tools, applications, and documentation visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.