Protecting Your Business Name and Brands
So you've decided on a business name and a brand... Great! Now how do you make sure that nobody else already owns the rights to that name? How do you make sure once you start using a business name, it is protected from others copying it? The first thing that comes to mind is probably trademarks right? Well, sort of.
Essentially, registering a business name protects your business name from being used by another business in the same state(s) or province(s). You can register a business name in multiple regions. A trademark on the other hand, is registered nationally and is a property. Similar to a tangible property, the owner of a trademark has the exclusive right to use it.
Business name registration is typically under $100 per region, and takes less than a week, depending on the region. Registering a trademark is a more complex process, taking up to a year or more and cost many thousands of dollars.
In the words of Wikipedia:
"A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a recognizable sign, design, or unique expression related to products or services of a particular source from those of others, although trademarks used to identify services are usually called service marks. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organization, or any legal entity. A trademark may be located on a package, a label, a voucher, or on the product itself. For the sake of corporate identity, trademarks are being displayed on company buildings."
So, if you are starting a new business and want to protect your business name, don't be concerned about the high cost and long timelines of trademark registration. At least not yet. Simply register your business name for the state or province you will be doing most of your business in initially.
However, doing a trademark search prior to choosing a business name can help you ensure there is a chance of future trademark availability as your business grows.