One of the 1st issues that you’re going to face with intellectual property protection for your business is likely to be about your business name and trademark. Since you need to decide the name of the business as well as the logo and signage before you start the business, you will need to address the trademark protection issue before. The trademark includes the name of your business including the slogan, symbol or picture or a logo that signifies and identifies your business to consumer. Common examples are Nikes face just do it, or Apple’s computer logo with an apple with the missing bite.
Any trademark that has been registered will be indicated with an ® behind the name.
A trademark that you are using but has not been registered will be signified by a™ instead. If you are operating a business under the trade name which is different from the name that your business has, you should get the trade name registered as well.
The fact is that any trademark that you use is automatically protected under the common law as soon as you start using it officially on your sign, or in your advertisement. If you do not get it registered officially, the conflict between 2 parties over a trademark is decided according to who started using it 1st.
If you are setting up a local shop and do not have any plans of expanding, you can simply set up your business name and trademark by doing a local search and ensuring that no other business or shop exists by the same name. However, if you do have aspirations to expand nationally you should do a proper trademark search using professional help and get your trademark registered.
State trademark registration is a fairly simple and quick and inexpensive process but it only protects your trademark in your state. This means that someone with the federal patent will supersede your registration.
It is an extremely good idea to register your trademark with the US patent and trademark office, USPTO. You can do an online check for existing agents and trademarks online as well. However, since this is a fairly complicated process, it is highly recommended that you use a professional trademark protection attorney or a firm that specializes in trademark and copyright name research. These professional services can also help you file for registration of your trademark.
The process for getting your trademark registered may take several years. In the meantime you can start by filing an intent to use which comprises of an image of the trademark and so on affidavit stating that you intend to use the trademark in your business.
You can get international trademark protection as well. However, this complicates the process. You will definitely need the help of an experienced trademark lawyer who can search the USPTO, NAFTA and the international history of the world intellectual property organization as well as state databases and common law uses. According to the Madrid protocol when you file for trademark protection in the United States you can designate up to 50 of the 67 member countries ways you want trademark protection. However, the flipside is that any other company anywhere else in the world can do the same thing and probably gain priority rights to your trademark. However, it is highly recommended that you do an international search for trademarks as well before using one for your business.