A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design (or a combination of any of these) used in commerce to identify the source of a product or service. If you are starting a new business venture, it is important to have a trademark strategy in place to protect yourself from any vulnerability. The tips set out below can help to ensure that you are properly protected from the start.

Choose Your Name Carefully

Once you have a business name in mind, a good first step is to conduct a search of the registry of business names on the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website. It is also good practice to conduct a search of the USPTO Trademark database to determine whether your trademark conflicts with another entity’s trademark. If you have any concerns after your searching, you should consult a trademark attorney for assistance.

Check Competitive Trademarks

After you have selected a name, check with competitive businesses to ensure there is no overlap. For example, are competitors using the same or similar name? Would your name get easily confused with another company? It’s important that you do your research beforehand to minimize the likelihood of potential trademark infringement issues.

File For Trademark Registration

Filing for trademark registration begins the process of protecting your business name, whether you decide to use the mark or not. There are several different types of trademarks you can register. It may be helpful to consult with your trademark attorney to determine which type is best for your circumstances.

Trademarking Abroad

Countries outside the United States have separate rules on trademark rights and may require separate filings. If you conduct business outside the U.S., consider filing a trademark application to protect your rights.