We’re continuing our series of franchising definitions articles with trademarks.
The trademark is the composition of all of a company’s major identifying marks, which include their brand name and logo. It also includes any words or symbols, or any other combination of identifying traits, that can help to distinguish the products or services sold by the trademarked company.
The trademark is what helps distinguish one company from another, and helps protect it from people trying to piggyback off the brand name and identity, among other things.
It’s fairly easy to register a trademark. All you have to do is go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark website. They have a database that you can search through to make sure your trademark hasn’t already been registered by someone else. According to their website, you typically get a response to your application within 6 months of filing the application.
It’s a very helpful tool for making sure your trademark is available.
But, submitting your trademark application doesn’t mean it will be approved. There are a lot of reasons why – even if your name doesn’t directly match a record in their database – your trademark will not get approved.
To create a trademark and brand name, it often takes a lot a work. Obviously, you have to go through all the steps to create the brand, like graphic design and test printing, before you can submit your trademark for approval. This can cost a lot of money, and if you find out that your trademark application is rejected, you’ll have wasted a lot of time and money.
They do recommend that, in some cases, it is best to consult with an IP attorney ( intellectual property attorney) before submitting your application. There are a lot of ins and outs with trademarking and protecting your intellectual property, so it is sometimes best to have an attorney take a look at your application. If you have a trademark that is visually too similar to another company, for example, or may potentially confuse people – even if it is not intended or malicious – your application can get rejected by the trademark office. Having an attorney who knows all the laws and bylaws can help you save a lot of time by giving you advice before submitting your application. Since it is up to a 6-month process, it can end up being a big time saver.
Did you know?
™ versus R
When you see a small ™ that means that the company has submitted their trademark application and is waiting for approval. Once you see the r, often with a circle around it, that means that the trademark has been registered.
We help franchises grow to the next level, and small businesses to start a new franchise. If you have any questions about trademarking, IP attorneys, or franchising in general, give us a call. We offer a free initial consultation.