.The business name is the most important intellectual property asset, yet many small and home-based entrepreneurs fail to take steps to protect their business names.
Here’s the advice of Shannon Moore, the General Manager for TradeMark Express, from the article Home Business Guide to Understanding Trademarks and Protecting Business Names:
Regardless of the size of a business, the name is the “face” of the business. The name is the focal point of all the benefits and features that relate to your products and/or services. It’s how customers come to know you and, perhaps more importantly, remember you. Protecting a business name ensures that when customers look for you, they find you and not your competitor with the same or similar name.
The first step is to ensure that the business name is legally available. No matter the size of a business, it’s the owner’s responsibility to ensure that the name they’re using is legally available. If it is clear and if you want to, filing for a trademark is the second step. Now I say if you want to because it’s not mandatory or even necessary for all businesses to file for a trademark. In fact, most businesses in the US do not have a registered trademark. However, there are several important advantages in owning a trademark on your business name, which I’ll explain in detail in a bit.