June 14, 2024
Learn how to legally protect your business name with this comprehensive guide. Follow these step-by-step instructions to trademark your name and avoid common mistakes.


As a business owner, your company name is an essential part of your brand. It identifies your products and services and sets you apart from competitors. However, just like your logo and domain name, your business name needs to be legally protected as well. This is where the process of copyrighting a business name comes into play. In this article, we’ll explore how to copyright your business name and why it’s important.

Step-by-Step Guide to Copyrighting a Business Name

The process of registering and copyrighting a business name may seem daunting at first, but it’s actually quite straightforward. Here are the steps you need to take:

Step 1: Conduct a Trademark Search

Before registering your business name for copyright, you need to ensure that it’s not already taken. Start by conducting a trademark search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. This will help you determine whether your business name is available for use.

Step 2: Decide on a Trademark Category

Once you’ve confirmed that your business name is available, you need to decide on a trademark category. There are three main categories:

  • Generic: These are common words or phrases that describe a product, service, or industry. They cannot be trademarked.
  • Descriptive: These are words or phrases that describe a product or service in a straightforward manner. They can be trademarked, but it’s harder to enforce their protection.
  • Distinctive: These are words or phrases that are unique and memorable. They are the easiest to trademark and protect.

Step 3: Register your Trademark

After deciding on a trademark category, you can begin the registration process. This involves filing a trademark application with the USPTO. You can file online or by mail.

Step 4: Pay the Registration Fee

The application fee varies depending on the type of trademark you’re registering and the method of filing. As of 2021, the fees range from $225 to $600 per class of goods or services. Fees are non-refundable, even if your application is rejected.

Comparison of Different Trademark Options

It’s essential to understand the differences between trademark, copyright, and service mark. Here’s a breakdown:


Trademarks protect names, logos, and slogans that identify a specific brand. They can be renewed indefinitely and offer the strongest legal protection.


Copyrights protect original artistic work such as books, music, software, and art. They are much easier to obtain than trademarks, but they provide less legal protection.

Service Marks

Like trademarks, service marks protect names, logos, and slogans that identify a specific service. The difference is that trademarks are used for products, while service marks are used for services.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Copyrighting a Business Name

Here are some common errors businesses make when registering their name for copyright:

  • Assuming domain registration is enough: Registering your domain name doesn’t protect your business name legally. You need to file for trademark registration separately.
  • Making a generic claim: Claiming that your business name is “the best” or “number one” is generic and not distinctive. It doesn’t provide legal protection and can lead to rejection of your trademark application.
  • Not conducting a thorough search: If your business name is too similar to an already registered trademark, your application may be rejected. It’s essential to conduct a comprehensive search before filing.
  • Using a name that is too descriptive: As mentioned earlier, descriptive names are harder to protect. It’s better to choose a distinctive name that’s easier to trademark.

Importance of Copyrighting Your Business Name

Legal protection of your business name is vital for several reasons. Here are just a few:

Protect Your Brand

Trademark registration protects your brand from unauthorized use and legal disputes. A registered trademark is evidence of your ownership and protects your company’s reputation in the market.

Prevent Copycats

Without trademark protection, anyone can use your business name for their products or services, leading to confusion for consumers and loss of revenue for your business.

Expand Your Business

Trademark registration is crucial if you plan to expand your business to new markets. It gives you exclusive rights to use your business name in all 50 states, making it easier to grow your brand.

Breaking Down Legal Jargon with Examples

The legal process of registering your name for copyright involves a lot of legal jargon. Here are some of the most important terms, with examples:

Filing Basis

This refers to the reason why you’re filing your trademark application. For example, if you’ve already started selling products under your business name, you would file for a “use-based” application. If you’re not yet selling products, you would file for an “intent-to-use” application.


This refers to a sample of how you’re using your business name for commercial purposes. For example, a business card, letterhead, or product label.

Goods and Services

This refers to the specific products or services that your trademark will cover. For example, if you’re registering your business name for a clothing line, then your goods would be apparel, and your services would be advertising and promotion of the apparel.


Legal protection of your business name is crucial to the long-term success of your company. By understanding the process of copyrighting a business name and common mistakes to avoid, you can take action to safeguard your brand. Remember to conduct a thorough trademark search, select a distinctive name, and register it through the USPTO. With a trademark in hand, you can confidently promote and expand your business without fear of legal disputes or copycats.

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