Differences Between Protecting my Business Name And a Federal Trademark


Do you know the difference between protecting
your business name with the Secretary of State and getting a federal trademark? A business
name is exactly what it sounds like: a way to identify a business. The requirements for
the business name are relatively simple. Register the name with the Secretary of State and if
the name is distinguishable from another business name in the state, it’s yours. No other
business can use that name within that one state. In addition, to do business in another
state where your business name is already being used by another company, you can register
for a DBA, Assumed Business Name, or trade name. Registering the business name with the
Secretary of State protects that name from being used by another business in the state,
but not in another state. A trademark, on the other hand, isn’t a
name. It’s a property. Like with any form of tangible property, the trademark’s owner
has exclusive rights to it, and can prevent anyone else from using it. It brands a certain
good or service and has inherent value. Think about a well-built car. If it has no markings
on it, it’s still valuable. But if you put a BMW trademark on it, the value goes up.
Because trademarks have additional value and involve property rights, the application process
is more complicated. You register trademarks with the federal government, and the application
can take more than six months, but your rights are enforced by both the federal
and state governments. Regardless of what you choose, make sure you
focus on protecting the name and identity of your business.

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