Trademark Rights and Business Names
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed June 20, 2016
Finding the right name for your business is very important for branding and identity, particularly for those in a crowded field hoping to stand apart from the crowd. But simply finding a catchy and unique name is not enough, since it may cause confusion with another business (even if that business is in a completely different line of work) or expose you to legal trouble. Aside from legal challenges by similarly named businesses or products, changing your company's name (and Internet address) after launching can undo all of the hard work you've invested into brand awareness and marketing.
Specifically, you want to make sure that your business name does not infringe upon the trademark rights of another party. Conducting the necessary research and care into choosing a business name now can save you from stress and loss of business down the road.
Below is a list of best practices with respect to trademark rights and business names, divided into "do's" and "don'ts." Learn more at FindLaw's Trademarks section.
Do ask your attorney to perform a thorough trademark search in order to determine that no other business is already using the name of your business, products, or services.
Do register your trademark in order to get the most protection for your trademark rights.
Do be on the lookout for other companies, products, and services that are or might be using the same business, product, or service name as yours.
Do also watch for names that are confusingly similar to yours.
Do contact your attorney if you are aware or suspect that another company may be infringing on your trademark
Do ask your lawyer to contact possible infringers and ask them to cease and desist their use of your name or mark.
Do ask your attorney to monitor relevant resources in order to watch for potential infringers.
Do ask that your lawyer file a Notice of Opposition if he or she becomes aware of a trademark application that could infringe on your mark.
Do use your registered mark exactly as it appears on your registration.
Do use your trademark on all of your business cards, stationery, invoices, advertising, signs, and packaging.
Do contact your attorney if you have any questions about your trademark rights before, during, or after the registration process.
Don't start using a business, product, or service name without investigating whether the name is already in use.
Don't skip the registration process to save money, because it will cost you much more money in the long run if you are infringing on another business's rights.
Don't file a trademark application without your attorney's advice and counsel.
Don't respond to objections to your application without your attorney's advice and counsel.
Don't let infringers go unchallenged.
Don't respond to accusations of infringement without consulting your attorney.
Don't accuse others of infringing without the benefit of your lawyer's advice and counsel.
Don't change your business, product, or service name without considering all of the possible consequences, which can be fully explained by your attorney.
Get Legal Help with Trademark Rights When Choosing a Business Name
Intellectual property attorneys are a valuable resource for businesses of all sizes, particularly those in a competitive field and/or strong IP worth protecting. Regardless of the quality of your products or services, loss of brand identity can be crippling for new businesses trying to get a foothold in their market. If you have questions or concerns about the name of your business with respect to trademark law, call a trademark attorney today.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified business attorney to help you identify how to best protect your business' intellectual property.