Someone asked me recently when is the best time to trademark your business name or logo. The simple answer: As soon as possible! Really, in general, the sooner the better for filing a trademark for your business name or logo.
I discussed in a previous video that you have some trademark rights under common law even if you never register it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). But, having a registered trademark is infinitely better and it makes your trademark rights a lot stronger. So, even though you might have a common law trademark in something, it’s always better to actually register the trademark if you can.
To register a trademark, you do have to be actively using whatever the trademark is in commerce. So, if your business is already established, i.e., you have a website or marketing materials using your business name or logo that you are trying to trademark, then you are actively using it in commerce and that will work in your favor when you try to get it registered.
If you’re not quite there yet, for example, maybe all you have so far is a great logo, you can still file an application for the trademark. However it is an “intent to use” application… and it is exactly what it sounds like. It means that you are intending to use whatever the trademark is. So, that will buy you some time in being able to actively use that trademark in commerce, but still getting that protection if your trademark is ultimately registered.
So, even if your business is not actively started yet, you can, in most cases, still file that intent to use application to get a head start on that trademark registration.
So, simply put, the sooner you can file a trademark application, the better off you are. It basically gets you first in line in priority of using that trademark, assuming no one else has already used it. And if you are still getting your business started, you can file that intent to use application in order to get a little extra time for you to start using it actively in commerce.