For starters, you can’t patent a name. A patent is typically used to grant property rights to some sort of invention—which can include everything from a simple machine to complex software code.
So, if you’re looking for intellectual property protection for something like a word or phrase, that will usually fall under either copyright or trademark. Don’t know the difference between a trademark and a copyright? Click here.
To trademark a name, you can file your trademark application online at the United States Patent and Trademark Office at USPTO.gov. But before you do that, it makes sense to check to see if the name in question has already been claimed. The USPTO has a handy Trademark Electronic Search System that can help.
When you’ve determined that your name is open to be trademarked, you can fill out your online application and pay the requisite filing fee (typically a few hundred bucks). Then, the USPTO will assign an examiner to your application.
The examiner will review your application and, if any questions or issues arise, they will contact you in an effort to resolve them. Once your application is approved, your trademark will be published for any opposition. This period of time gives other businesses a chance to make sure your trademark is distinctive enough that it won’t cause confusion in the marketplace.
Once any opposition is cleared up (typically through legal remedy), your trademark will be registered, and you can begin using it with the familiar ® symbol.
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