Business Formation

Do I Need to Register a Trademark or a Service Mark for My Business Name?

As the internet spreads to all corners of the globe, businesses may discover that they are now competing against other companies in distant locales with identical or similar-sounding names. This may not have presented a problem a few decades ago when business was more local. However, now that the internet is the new Main Street, a business may be in for a surprise if the optimal domain name for their business has already been taken. To protect your business name, you may consider registering for a trademark or service mark. Additionally, registering and reserving a domain name, even if you do not currently intend to publish a web site, may be a prudent move.

What is a trade or service mark?

Trade or service marks are not necessarily the full name of your business. Trademarks can include any symbol, word, device or name, or any combination, used, or intended to be used by you, in business to distinguish and identify your goods and services or their source from those of others.

A service mark is any symbol, word, device or name, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in business, to distinguish and identify the services and the source of services you provide to those provided by others.

Where do I search for trademarked names?

You can find registered trade names at your Secretary of State's office and at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.