A trademark is a word, name, logo, symbol or design that identifies and distinguishes a product from goods or services developed by other companies. Technically, a “trademark” is used to identify goods and a “service mark” is used to identify services, although the term “trademark” is often used as a generic term to refer to both types of marks.
A trademark registration grants you exclusive ownership rights to use your trademark in connection with the goods or products you sell. It also enables you to prevent other businesses or entities from using your trademark.
A Texas trademark registration is a simpler, faster, and less expensive process than the federal trademark registration. It is appropriate for a business that operates solely within Texas and does not plan to expand to other states. A federal trademark issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides protection for businesses operating in interstate commerce.
In order to obtain a Texas trademark registration, you will have to demonstrate that you are using the trademark in connection with your business’s good or products before the date of your application and that the mark differs from other trademarks registered in Texas or with the USPTO.
The federal registration symbol is ® and should only be used after registering a federal trademark. There is no special symbol signifying that you have registered your trademark with Texas. Upon completed registration, you should use ™ beside your registered trademark.
Filing organizational documents for your business, such as a Certificate of Formation or an Assumed Name Certificate, does not give you any rights to use a name in commerce nor do these filings prevent someone else from using your business’s name. In fact, if another business has already obtained a trademark for your business name, it can demand that you cease using that name!
Benefits of a Trademark Registration
- Protect Your Company’s Name or Logo. Often a company’s name or logo is a company’s most valuable asset. Trademarks significantly increase the value of your brand. Potential purchasers of your business are much more likely to pay more for your company’s goodwill.
- Rebranding. It can be very expensive to rebrand your business with a new name if another company trademarks your business name.
- Exclusive Ownership. You can stop anyone who attempts to use or register a similar mark. A registered trademark holder has priority when there are any conflicts between businesses with the same or similar names.
- Notification. Depending on the type of registration you obtain, all companies in your state or the United States are placed notice of your rights in your trademark. In addition, you may use the ® trademark symbol for your name and logo.
- Domain Name Protection. If someone tries to register a domain name that infringes on your trademark, you may be able to shut down the website based on your trademark registration. Trademarks are often important for Internet businesses where confusing names could direct traffic away from your web site.
- Registration in Other Countries. A US trademark can be used as a basis for obtaining trademark registrations in other countries.
Business owners should consult with their legal and tax advisers on business legal matters.