Is Your Business Name Trademarked? If Not, You Could Be in for a Rude Awakening

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Andrew Rapacke is a registered patent attorney and serves as Managing Partner at The Rapacke Law Group, a full service intellectual property law firm.
Trademark Your Business Name

If you read a transcript of all the trademarked business names and product names you use in a given day, you would be surprised at how many there are.  If you were the one to go on a coffee run to bring drinks for your co-workers, the coffee shop where you bought the drinks was probably trademarked (whether it was the one with the mermaid logo or any of the other major coffee shop chains), as were the names of some of the drinks.  When discussing a grocery shopping list with your spouse, you probably called the adhesive bandages Band-Aids, the gelatin Jell-O, the facial tissues Kleenex, and the laundry detergent Tide, regardless of the brands you actually bought.  If you live in the United Kingdom, you probably refer to vacuuming the floor as hoovering, no matter what brand of vacuum cleaner you use.  There is no harm in using trademarked brand names casually, and you certainly do not have to pay every time you mention Sprite, Big Macs, or Nikes in conversation.  The reasons for trademarking the name have nothing to do with people using your business names in conversation.  A trademark lawyer can help you trademark your business name.

Why You Should Trademark Your Business

Believe it or not, not all business names are unique.  When you register your business as a legal entity and apply for a tax ID number for your business, the State of Florida will only approve your business name if it is unique.  In other words, no other businesses in the state can have an identical business name.  This is why you sometimes see two businesses with very similar, but not identical names, for example, “Sunshine State Burgers” and “Sunshine State Burgerz.”  Registered business names are not trademarks, though.

Businesses name registrations only apply to the state where the business is registered, whereas trademarks are governed by federal law.  Therefore, if your business in Florida is called the Roseate Spoonbill Bar and Grill, and there is another restaurant in Alabama with the same name, and the Alabama restaurant’s name is trademarked, the owner of that restaurant can sue you for trademark infringement.  In fact, they can even sue you if the two names are not identical, just very similar.  In other words, if you are able to register a business called the Roseate Spoonbill Bar and Grill, a Roseate Spoonbill Bar and Grille in Alabama can still sue you.

Lawsuits Are a Pain, but Trademarking a Business Name Is Simple

Running a business is plenty of work; the last thing you need is to be named as a defendant in a trademark infringement lawsuit.  It is easy to trademark your business, though.  You can do it online at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  It pays to have a trademark lawyer help you prepare your application, to increase the chances that it will be accepted.

Contact the Rapacke Law Group About Trademarks for Business Names

A trademark lawyer can help you navigate the process of registering a trademark for your business.  Contact the Rapacke Law Group in South Florida for a free consultation.

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