How to Trademark Your Brand Name

Obtain a trademark if you plan to do business across state or national borders. A trademark prevents others from infringing on your business identity by using a similar name, logo, or other identifying feature of your brand.

Coming up with a name that appeals to consumers and gaining a nod of approval from your trademark attorney is a challenging, frustrating, and even painful process. Part of the dilemma is that consumers generally prefer names comprised of familiar words that create instant connection and understanding, whereas attorneys prefer unusual and coined names — the farther away from any word ever heard before, the better.

Follow this name development and trademarking process used by leading brand development specialists:

  1. Establish your strategic objective based on your desired brand position and character.

  2. Develop anywhere from 500 to 1,000 potential names.

  3. Select your top 50 name choices.

  4. Send your list to an attorney who specializes in naming and trademarking.

    The attorney will conduct an initial trademark search in your business arena and in related areas of business to determine whether using the name may leave you vulnerable to litigation from other brand holders now or in the future. In most cases, by the time the drilling’s over, only two or three of your 50 name entries end up on a “good chance of approval” list. The price for conducting the initial screening for each name usually runs around $25 to $30.

  5. The attorney puts names that make it past the initial screening through an exhaustive availability search.

    This phase generally runs around $3,000 to $4,000 per name and results in a detailed risk analysis. If your top-choice name is deemed clear to use without risk of an infringement suit from another trademark holder, authorize your attorney to run — not walk — to register it as your own. If its use comes with some infringement question marks, work with your attorney (and within the comforts of your own risk tolerance) to determine whether or not to proceed to adopt the name with or without a trademark.

You can obtain extensive information and advice on trademarks from these online resources:

Your business attorney probably can assist you or refer you to a good legal specialist for help with getting a trademark. Or you can use the American Bar Association's Lawyer Locator tool. This tool allows you to locate attorneys specializing in intellectual property in the state or country of your choice.

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