Can You Patent a Brand Name?
You’ve just found the perfect name for your brand, so you might be wondering whether you can patent it? Inventors often seek to protect their inventions by patenting them with the USPTO (The United States Patent and Trademark Office). Patents allow inventors to stop others from using, making, and selling the patented invention for a limited period of time. Utility patents last for 20 years while design patents last for 15 years. So, can you patent a brand name? We will answer this question below.
Can You Patent a Brand Name?
The short answer is: no, you cannot patent a brand name because they are not protected under U.S Patent Law. If you have a brand name that you want to protect, you should consider protecting it under trademark law. If you want to protect a brand name, you should consider registering it as a trademark with the USPTO.
The USPTO allows people to register their brand names as a trademark. To trademark a brand name, the applicant must use the brand name as an identifier as the source of goods or services. Said differently, the applicant must be using the brand name so that customers know that the applicant is the person or business offering the product or services
Why Can’t You Patent a Brand Name?
Brand names cannot be patented because patent law does not protect brand names and identifiers that are used to show the source of goods or services. For example, utility patents are used to protect new inventions, machines, and processes and design patents are used to protect the appearance of an object or how a product looks. As you can see from these two examples, brand names fall outside the scope of what patent law protects.
Having said that, a brand name that you’re using to market and sell your product or services can be registered with the trademark office. Trademark registration does offer some benefits to the person or entity registering the brand name as a trademark.
How Do You Register Your Brand Name as a Trademark?
You can register your brand name at the trademark office by preparing and filing a trademark application with the USPTO. To register your brand name, you will have to provide the trademark office with basic information, such as your name, address, phone number, and the words that you want to register as a trademark. If you have a logo that’s part of your brand name, you can choose to include that as part of your trademark.
After preparing the trademark application, an applicant must file it with the USPTO and pay any required fees. The trademark office typically charges $225 for each class of goods or services that you want to protect with your mark. For example, if you’re using your brand name to sell shirts and mouse pads, you may need to register it for both classes of goods and pay $225 for each class. However, if you’re only offering shirts, you might only need to register the trademark for 1 class of goods.
Once you prepare and file your trademark application online, the trademark office will send you a confirmation email that contains your trademark serial number. You can use this serial number to check the status of your trademark application.
Conduct a Trademark Search Before Filing a Trademark Application
Before submitting a trademark application, an applicant should conduct a trademark search to see if someone else has already registered the brand name they want to use as a trademark for similar goods or services. This is done by heading over to the USPTO website and conducting a trademark search.
The USPTO has a basic trademark search tool that applicants can use to search trademarks that have already been registered with the USPTO. To conduct a search, an applicant should search for the same words that make up the brand name, as well as different variations of that brand name that you want to trademark.
If the trademark search does not return any results that are confusingly similar to your brand, you may proceed with preparing and filing your trademark application, however, if the search turns up results that are similar to yours and may confuse customers, you should contact an attorney to determine whether you should register your brand name as a trademark.
Your attorney may suggest that you proceed with registering your brand name as a trademark or finding a different brand name. Your attorney should be able to evaluate your specific situation and give you advice based on his experience.
Benefits of Registering Your Brand Name as a Trademark
The main benefit of registering your brand name as a trademark with the USPTO is that you will be able to stop others from using your brand name on their products or services. This allows you to build a good reputation for your brand name without having to worry about other parties tarnishing the reputation you built behind your brand name.
If a party does infringe on your trademark by using your brand name on their products or services, you can and should send them a cease and desist letter. In the event that they don’t stop their infringing use of your trademark, you have the option of hiring an attorney to bring a lawsuit against them in federal court. One of the benefits of registering a trademark with the USPTO is that you can sue infringers in federal court.
If you have a brand name that attracts customers, by registering it with the trademark office, you can stop others from registering confusingly similar brand names. You will be the only person or business that can use the brand name on the products or services that you offer.
How Much Does it Cost to Register Your Brand Name with the USPTO?
As we mentioned previously, the trademark office charges applicants $225 to register a trademark for each class of goods or services. This price applies only if you’re registering your brand name on your own with the USPTO. Some applicants choose services, such as Legal Zoom or Trademarkia to register their trademarks and these services often charge between $100 and $500 to assist you with the preparation and filing of your trademark application. Their fees are in addition to the filing fees that you must pay to the trademark office.
Also, some trademark owners choose to hire an attorney to prepare and file their trademark application with the trademark office. Trademark attorneys often charge between $1,000 to $2,000 to assist trademark owners with the registration of their trademarks. The USPTO recommends that applicants hire an attorney to assist them with evaluating their options, as well as with the preparation and filing of their trademark application.
What Can You Do If Someone Uses the Brand Name You Registered with the USPTO?
If someone uses the brand name that you registered with the trademark office, you can ask to cease the use of your brand name if their use confuses customers into believing that you are the source of products or services. If the party is confusing the public and the infringer does not stop using your brand name on its products or services, you can bring a lawsuit against them in federal court for trademark infringement. If you’re successful, the court may order the infringing party to stop using your brand name on their products and services.
What is the Difference Between a Trademark and a Patent?
By now, you probably know that you cannot protect a brand name with a patent, this is so because patents protect new inventions, processes, machines, and designs, whereas trademarks protect logos or words that are used to indicate the source of goods or services. So, to make things simple, patents protect how machines work and trademarks protect brand names and logos that companies use on their products to indicate the provider of the product or service.
Can You Register Your Trademark For Free?
Unfortunately, like most things in life, registering your trademark with the trademark office is not free. Even if you choose to register your brand name with the trademark office, you will have to pay a registration fee. The trademark office does not provide a free option to register a trademark.
Patenting a Brand Name
At this point, you should probably know that patenting a brand name is not possible because patent law does not offer protection to brand names. Patent law protects new inventions and designs, it does not offer protection to brand names and trademarks. The appropriate protection for a brand name is trademark registration. Many business owners choose to register their brand names with the trademark office to enjoy the benefits of trademark law protection. That said, if you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.