Archive for June, 2014

Choosing and Protecting Your Company’s Name

When selecting a company’s name, be sure it does not infringe on someone else’s right to use a same or similar name. Just because the Secretary of State allows you to use a name, it does not necessarily mean that you have a legal right to use that name under U.S. copyright and other laws. Also, it does not give you exclusive rights to use that name.

If it is of large concern, there are companies which can perform a nationwide name search for you. An example of when this could be necessary is if you are about to spend substantial sums on advertising. For example, you don’t want to put your company’s name and logo on products if someone down the road may challenge your right to use that name or logo.

At the start-up of a company, owners often are not so much concerned about protecting the company’s name and are more concerned about day-to-day operations. After a time, as the company develops goodwill, a company’s name can become quite valuable and is, if nothing is done, largely unprotected.

It can be wise to have filed an application to register your company’s name as a trademark or servicemark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office (a trademark is for the sale of goods and a servicemark is for the sale of services). Once a company’s name is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, generally someone else may not use that name or a confusingly similar name for the sale of the same or similar goods or services. If not done fairly early-on, by the time an application to register a trademark is filed, some companies unfortunately find that someone else has already registered their company’s name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

You can avoid these problems, including possible usurpation of your company’s name by others, by at any early date filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office an application to register your company’s name (but not before the name is actually used in interstate commerce). Having a company’s name registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can add substantial value to the company if the company or its assets are sold. Although the filing of an application to register a trademark furnishes some immediate protection, the process takes close to a year before the trademark registration is issued. Usually, there are no objections to an application to register a trademark. It is not typical, but occasionally there can be an objection by another entity claiming it is using the same or similar name for the sale of similar goods or services, which can result in trademark litigation.

© Walling Law Firm, P.C. 2014

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