Trademarking Your Startup: Claiming What Is Yours

Latest posts by Mike Floeck (see all)

Working in a startup comes with its own set of ups and downs, but owning the creative rights to your work should not be one of them. Whether you are in the early stages of the company or have been around for a while, keeping the intellectual property (IP) at your organization’s discretion is a means for the preservation of integrity. Trademarking your startup is essential to avoid future breaches of confidentiality, and running the risk of others profiting from your ideas.

Intellectual property is not just about owning a set of rights. At its core, it is also about holding the ability to stay authentic to your brand, so that you can grow your business with confidence in what sets you apart. In this post, we go over the different types of intellectual property, and how you can go about registering your startup.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property is the proprietary ownership of what starts out as just an idea. Similarly to when one purchases a physical product such as real estate or an electric vehicle, IP refers to everything from modern artwork to technological inventions. There are three main types of IP, which can be categorized as copyright, patent and trademark. Each is associated with different types of creation and holds varying degrees of applicability.

Types of intellectual property

Copyright: The first is mainly concerning literary works. Examples include textbooks, fiction or nonfiction novels, and anything longer than a quote.

Patent: This is mainly used for inventions, and anything related to scientific or technological innovation. Some examples might be a new car battery, solar panel or vaccine.

Trademark: For just about everything else, you would typically classify it as a trademark. This type of IP is more broadly attributed to pictures, brand logos, fonts, slogans and the like.

Trademarking your startup

When it comes to trademarking your company, there are a few steps you need to take. Registering your IP or trademark can be done at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). All you need to do is make sure that the name and overall availability of your idea are not yet taken in the state where you wish to register and pay the necessary fees that accompany each portion of the application process.

Once you have determined the exact idea and seen that it is not taken, it is recommended that you seek professional help. While filing on your own can help you save on upfront costs, you run the risk of dealing with future problems later down the line. This is especially true in the cases where there are multiple people involved, and in the event that you run into any unforeseen problems regarding the expansion of your idea.

Luckily, if hiring a lawyer seems like a headache that is going to make too big of a dent in your wallet right now, then hiring alternative service providers like LegalZoom might be your best bet. With a clear understanding of the process, they break everything down in a few simple steps, at a fraction of the cost.

Regardless of what your startup is, protecting the authenticity of your brand and being able to increase your company’s growth and visibility go hand in hand. Taking this step is one of the most effective ways to invest in your profitability, while not needing to worry about intellectual theft further down the line.

A Guide to Trademarking Your Startup

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