After a lot of creative brainstorming, you’ve finally found the perfect name for your new brand. Now you just need to make sure the name is available for you to use legally without starting a lawsuit. Whenever possible, come up with a brand name that is completely unique, so that it can occupy the entire shared mind of the public in the future.

From a marketing perspective, brands with the same or similar names can create confusion for your customers, especially when consumers turn to an Internet search to find out more about your business. Making sure your new small business branding is clear prior to launch will help your bottom line down the road.

These are the steps to register your new brand.

Step 1. Don’t skip this process!

Changing a brand in the future can be a huge headache and financial loss. Take the time to do the proper amount of research and due diligence to make sure your new name works legally. If you receive a cease-and-desist notice from another company claiming it is infringing its trademark, you could waste time and energy (along with high legal fees) fixing the situation. Also, you will waste the capital you have already created for your brand if you have to change your name in the future.

Step 2. Investigation

To do your own research, start with a basic search on Google and through the Electronic Trademark Search System. You are looking for other companies or brands that have the same (or very similar) names, especially those in your state or across the country in the same industry as yours. If that’s the case, avoid the name and immediately think of a new one. However, if your Google search becomes clear again, then that’s the go-ahead to do a deeper and more comprehensive search. The next best step is to speak with a trademark attorney who will also conduct a thorough search and advise you on all of your options.

Step 3. Apply for a trademark

Applying for a trademark involves complicated paperwork, time, and knowledge of trademark law. If you are submitting a name, logo or tagline or all of the above for trademark, you can waste valuable time and money if you don’t get it right the first time. We highly recommend hiring an attorney who specializes in trademark law to help with the process. Also, when running a business, it’s better to spend your time on something else than trying to figure out the legal applications.

Step 4. Pay the fees

Fees vary based on the number and type of trademarks you file, so be sure to check with the patent and trademark office before applying. Also note that an online trademark service or law office will charge additional fees for their services. However, depending on your circumstances, it might be worth paying a little more for a simple and hassle-free application process.

Step 5. Cover your bases

Before you engrave your new brand on a stone tablet in front of your building (or print 10,000 product labels), it is always a good idea to consult with private legal counsel to properly cover your foundations for the future. Disputes can arise if other companies subsequently develop trademarks or trade names similar to yours, causing confusion among your customers and can wreak havoc on your web presence. A trademark infringement case could ruin a business and tarnish your brand and financial stability. Plan for success and invest in a trademark – you’ll sleep better at night.

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