1. What Is a Trademark?
2. What Is a TM?
3. What are the Trademark Naming Requirements?
4. Tips to Avoid Making a Bad Investment in a Trademark

The process to make a trademark differentiates goods and/or services from each other. This is different and separate from registering a business name and company name. The last two relate to business administration and contact addresses under the law. A business name doesn't give you rights or ownership to the name, only a trademark can do this.

What Is a Trademark?

In the commercial world, a trademark is a sign to distinguish services and/or goods from each other. It can be anything from a number, word, color, picture, smell, logo or any combination of these.

Your trademark can become your most valuable asset. Can you imagine if Coca-Cola had no trademark with all of their property?

If you don't get it right the first time, this can cost a lot of money in the future. Attorneys who deal with patents are not cheap and the trademark office has strict governing laws. It's in your interest to own the name and not just the manner it's represented.

What Is a TM?

TM is just a mark that is incorporated by the company in its business conduct. TM signals an unregistered trademark. No protection is provided with a TM, but the symbol placed on the top right of your logo is a good technique while you wait for an official registration.

Reasons to add a TM in a business name include:

  • It fools competitors in thinking you already have a trademark.
  • Your business will have a more credible presence.
  • The visuals of your logo won't change much as it will go from TM to ®.

What are the Trademark Naming Requirements?

  • Unique - Go ahead and get creative. You have to come up with a name that hasn't been heard of in the English language. It doesn't have to do with your product and you can make it up, taking from your concept, service or product.
  • Unregistrable Words - Geographic names, common surnames, and common trade names used in your type of business.
  • Ambiguity in Phonetics - Take care to not use words and combinations which can be pronounced differently. A good name is completely made up so nobody knows how to say it. Sounds to look out for include "c" for cindy or carol and "a" for bat, day, or hall.
  • Length - Try to have a name that is about five to six letters. If it's longer, your clients can try to shorten it into another slang name.
  • S - Usually customers tend to add an "S" into your name, especially if you're in the hospitality or retailing industries. If possible, try to incorporate an "s" into your name. This particular is critical for the two industries mentioned.
  • End with a Z - You can substitute the "S" with a "Z" as they are both pronounced the same. One is able to be registered under the trademark office "Z" while the "s" cannot. The only problem is people can misspell it when searching for your name.

Tips to Avoid Making a Bad Investment in a Trademark

  • Maximize the brand name value since it's important for company's overall image and customer experience.
  • Do a good search - You have to do your own research when it comes to choosing a name. You can hire a professional to uncover common law uses or business names. Heading straight to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will only lead to confusion on both sides.
  • Protect word marks first - It's best to seek protection for your wordmark. You can save more money by applying to register just your wordmark as the logo itself is trademarked. If however, your word brand name is descriptive and your logo is unique, it can be wise to register the logo on its own or in addition to the word mark.
  • Meet USPTO requirements - Don't waste time or money registering something which won't qualify for a trademark. Uniqueness is key as you can't seek registration for a common word.
  • Protect the trademark abroad - If you want to expand abroad, you'll have to register in those jurisdictions as well. You can register under the treaties between your country and your target market.
  • Take care of your trademark - It's important to protect your trademark, but taking on every threat can be costly. Develop a strategy that's within your budget.

If you need help with making a trademark, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.