James Slater is a trademark lawyer based in Florida who routinely helps businesses, startups, and established companies across the United States and worldwide with trademark filings, searches, and litigation, when necessary.

Slater Legal PLLC offers affordable flat-fee trademark registration services. We understand that starting a new business can be costly, but before you invest in any brand development, marketing services, web services, or other branding, all businesses should clear and, to the extent possible, register their trademark. Simply put, trademark clearance and registration is a small business cost that has the potential to save you a fortune down the road.

Reach out to our trademark lawyer today to learn more about how we can help you protect your intellectual property, register your trademarks, and perform a trademark search and analysis to help clear your branding, and otherwise provide brand counsel to help you choose distinctive and protectable trademarks. On a case-by-case basis we also handle trademark disputes.

Branding is what distinguishes your company and your brand from others. This is also known as your intellectual property. When you invest in marketing, web design, package design, or any other branding collateral, you are investing money in your intellectual property. The best way to protect your investment is to ensure that you have a strong brand and to register your trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The process can be complicated and inexperienced counsel or non-lawyer online trademark service companies will happily take your money while failing to deliver an appropriate result. We always recommend the assistance of an experienced trademark lawyer with branding, clearance, and registration. Slater Legal, PLLC is a full-service trademark law firm based in Florida that offers flat-free trademark clearance and registration services. Learn more about our flat-fee services here.

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Clearing your trademarks.

The first step in the trademark registration process is to perform a trademark search to confirm that no other company is using the same or a similar name related to the goods or services that you sell or intend to sell. If you plan to establish a nationwide business or will be investing money in marketing, branding, and company-building, hiring a lawyer to perform a trademark search is a good idea. Even if you plan to only do business locally, it is still a good idea to do a trademark search and to register your trademark, if possible. The last thing your business needs is to be mired in a costly trademark dispute.

If you are a start-up or small business still in the process of choosing your business name, you can begin by doing a basic Google search to see if any other business is using your name. You can also try to purchase a domain name with the business name, but keep in mind that purchasing a domain name does not protect the name legally. That is, owning a domain name for your business name is not the same as owning a trademark for your business name. It is possible to buy a domain for a business name and still end up getting sued for trademark infringement. This is one detail that many small business owners may not realize.

If there’s no other business with your company’s name visible online, your next step will be to search the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark (USPTO) Electronic Search System, called TESS. When searching for a trademark, it is important to keep in mind that trademarks are source indicators for types of goods or services. Doing this search protects you, because if you see another business registered with the name you intend to use, you can choose another name! Infringing on another company’s trademark can cost you money in lost sales, not to mention legal fees, if you are sued.

One important consideration is whether the name you’re choosing for your business is distinctive. You can learn more about distinctive trademarks here. The USPTO will refuse to register your trademark on the Principal Register if it is not distinctive. You should speak to an experienced trademark attorney to assist you with a clearance search before you commit to a business, service, or product name—that way you’ll be confident that your name is protectable and registrable. Slater Legal PLLC offers flat-fee clearance searches at an affordable price. Start your business with the peace of mind of knowing that your trademark is yours.

Flat-fee trademark registration.

By registering your trademark, you protect your business. Once your name and/or logo is registered with the USPTO, your trademark is yours and you can protect it nationwide. When you create a trademark and use it in commerce, common-law rights will automatically attach. Those common-law rights are limited in scope and geography. To protect your trademarks nationwide, you should register them with the USPTO. In addition to nationwide protection, some of the benefits of federal registration are:

  • Your trademark is listed in USPTO database of registered and pending trademarks;
  • Legal presumption that you own the trademark and have the right to use it (in federal court, your registration certificate proves ownership);
  • You can use your federal registration as a basis for filing for trademark protection in foreign countries;
  • You will have the right to bring a lawsuit concerning the trademark in federal court;
  • You can use the federal trademark registration symbol ®;
  • You can record your registration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to stop the importation of infringing goods.

Without federal registration you must rely on your common-law rights as a trademark owner and risk that someone else registers the mark before you. While you are protecting your mark—but before you register it—you should use the ™ or ℠ symbols, as appropriate, to police the mark and let others know that you are protecting it. Once you have registered the mark, you can use the the registration symbol (®) next to your mark. By hiring Slater Legal PLLC to register your trademarks, you are taking an important step in protecting your business. Companies spend a great deal of money establishing and building brand recognition. If you fail to protect your trademark, you run the risk of spending money on branding, web design, package material, and more, only to face a lawsuit or cease and desist letter because another company registered your trademark first or claims that they began using it before you.

The takeaway is this: if you are a new business, startup, or have already picked a name and are in the process of creating marketing material and branding, consider speaking to a trademark lawyer today about trademark registration. And if you are a small local business that has been doing business for some time under a given name, consider adding registering your trademark into your marketing budget. Slater Legal PLLC works with clients of all sizes to help them protect their intellectual property. For companies and individuals who haven’t started using a product, brand name, or slogan quite yet, you don’t have to wait to register until you start using your trademarks in commerce. Experienced trademark counsel can help you determine if an intent-to-use application is appropriate for you. Contact our firm to speak to an experienced trademark attorney and to learn more about our flat-fee USPTO trademark application services.

Protect your brand.

Your brand is your company’s identity. It’s your name. It’s your logo. Companies invest significant money in building and establishing their brands. Brand-building is so much more than just a name and a logo. It is the collateral or culture you create around your name and image. It’s your website. It’s your Instagram account. It’s the relationship you build with customers and clients. Yet, if you don’t take steps to clear or protect your brand, you run the risk of having to change your name or logo or spend significant time and resources battling infringement, opposition, or cancellation claims.

Don’t spend time and resources building a brand only to learn you have to change your business name because it is already taken. Reach out to our trademark lawyer at Slater Legal PLLC today to learn more about our flat-fee USPTO trademark application services.

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