Do I trademark my name, my logo or both?

You can register just your name, your logo, or you can do both. The logo and the name constitute two separate trademark registrations and would require two separate payments to the USPTO of $275.

If you need to choose, then, generally speaking, companies start with trademarking their name. Protecting your name gives you the broadest protection because it prevents any use of it that causes confusion, even if someone tries to use your name within their logo. A mark for your logo protects the exact shape, orientation, stylization and sometimes color in that particular logo. The company name can, but does not have to be part of the logo. Registering the logo protects it and prevents others from using a logo that is confusingly similar.

You’ve picked your mark, now search to better assess its availability

Once you have picked your mark, you should do some searches to see if others might be using it before you invest the time and money trying to register it. A search will help avoid obvious duplications of pre-existing marks. If the USPTO rejects your application, the fees to the USPTO are not refundable. If your company is just beginning, it’s also better to make name changes now rather than invest years building a brand only to learn that you have to change the name and lose all of your goodwill.

Searches can range from a basic exact-match searches on the USPTO database to global and common law searches for the use of the mark by others although they may not have registered it as a trademark. While the more robust the search, the better assurances you will have, a “clean” search does not mean someone will not claim they were using the mark before you. Nevertheless, you should consider running a search before filing.

Now, it is time to apply

To apply, you will need some basic information. For a typical application, be prepared to provide at least the following:

  1. The full legal name and address of the owner of the mark.
  2. If you are using the mark, an example of how you are using it to actually sell goods or services.
  3. Information on how you are using it or plan to use it.
  4. The dates you first began using the mark.