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Starting A Business? A Few Things You Should Know About Trademarks

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No matter what type of business you are starting, having a good name is important. The name needs to be something unique to your business so that when people see or hear it, they immediately think of you. This can be problematic if you accidentally use another business' name or if someone uses yours in the future. This is where registered trademarks come into play. To ensure that your name and/or brand are protected, it is a good idea to hire an attorney with experience in trademarks, patents, and copyrights. Here are just a few facts to help you decide how you should proceed.

Getting a Business License Does Not Protect the Name

When you start a business, you will need to get a business license in the city where the business is being conducted. While this will require listing the name of the business, it does not protect you against anyone else using it. To ensure no one else uses it, you still need to register the name as a trademark.

Another Type of Business Can Use the Name

Even if you register the name as a trademark, if a different company with different types of goods and/or services wants to use the name, it will be allowed. For example, if you name your business "Joe's Place" and you sell handmade soaps and lotions, a different "Joe's Place" can open if it sells something completely different. For this reason, it is a good idea to come up with a name that is completely unique to what you do or just something made up.

Registering at Different Levels

You can choose to register the trademark at either the state or federal level. The protection is regional. In other words, if you only register at the state level, another company can use that name in a different state, even if they are the same type of business. So, there could be another "Joe's Place" selling soaps and lotions in a different state. You should also know that if you plan on going international, you will need to register the trademark in each country you will be doing business in.

Of course, if you plan on only having a small, local business, you can forego the whole trademark registration. Beware though—if someone else is using that name in a different state or area and has a bad reputation, even residents in your locale may think it is you. People check reviews and such on the Internet all the time. You wouldn't want to be associated with a company that people do not like. To be safe, meet with a trademark attorney and find out about all the protection that registering your business name can provide.