How to Copyright a Business Name
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Copyright a business name
So, you’ve just started your own business and you’re wondering how you can protect all that branding you’ve done. You spent months coming up with the perfect business name and you want to make sure that no one can use it for their own gain!
You’ve probably heard the word copyright thrown around and you’re wondering how you can use it to protect your business, your branding, and all your hard work? Well, we’re here to help!
In this guide, we’re going to be looking over the ways you can protect your business with copyright. We’ll be guiding you through copyrighting, trademarking, and other ways to protect your business. I’m Alex and I’ll be with you throughout this article! Let’s get started.
What is copyright?
When looking at ways to protect your business name, you’ve probably come across the word copyright. Protecting your business name is essential if you want to ensure nobody profits from your hard work and uses your business name unfairly.
Copyrighting is a way to protect your work. It covers literary and graphic works, as well as musical and dramatic works. It is a form of protection provided by the government that governs who can ‘copy’ your work.
Copyright does not cover ideas, and so any ideas can only be copyrighted once they have become tangible or fixed.
Unfortunately, business names actually can’t be copyrighted. Copyright can be great for protecting designs and other parts of your business, even your logo! But it cannot protect your business name.
Can I use copyright to protect my business name?
As we’ve already discussed, copyright is great for protecting elements of your business, such as designs, technical drawings, and even your logo. Copyright is a great resource for creators to ensure that their work does not get used for others’ profit.
However, copyright cannot be used to protect your business name. Copyright does not cover single names or phrases. It is thought that these items can so easily be duplicated that they are not unique or substantial enough for copyright protection.
So, if you can’t use copyright to protect your business name, how can you protect it? Keep reading to find out all about trademarking and how you can use it to protect your business name!
What is trademarking?
So, copyrighting won’t be able to protect your business name but a trademark might! Let’s take a look at more information about trademarks and how they can help you to protect your business name.
Trademarks can be used to distinguish your business name and ensure that the name cannot be used by another brand. There are some restrictions on what can be trademarked, for example, a verb in common usage or a generic noun will likely not be allowed to be trademarked.
Your trademark identifies you to customers and so you need to make sure to use it correctly. In addition, if your trademark does fall into common usage, you may lose your trademark.
You have to ensure you keep a trademark in force and there are fees involved. If you see someone infringing upon your trademark, you should get in contact with a lawyer who can help with this kind of dispute. Trademark disputes can end up in court but rarely do.
Trademarks are easily identifiable by the little ‘™’ marker that appears beside trademarked items.
Now that we know what trademarks are, let’s take a look at how you can get a trademark for your business name and protect your hard work!
How can I get a trademark for my business name?
So, you’ve decided you need to trademark your brand new business name. You want to ensure nobody can use it and make profits from your hard work. Keep reading if you want to learn how to get a trademark.
Generally, a trademark is easily obtained online. You can usually file for a trademark on your government’s website. Trademarking your business name will likely require a fee which varies from country to country.
When you trademark your business name, you should understand that your business name is only trademarked in the country you applied, except in certain circumstances which we will discuss later on.
If you want to know about trademarks in the US, UK, and Europe, keep on reading to find out!
Trademarking in the US
So, you’ve decided to trademark your business in the US and you’re wondering how to do it! Let’s take a look at how to do that!
Trademarks in the US are awarded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This website is really handy as you can search your business name to ensure the trademark is available.
Once you have ensured your business name is available for trademark, you will need to fill out an application and pay a fee which usually starts around $250 but it can get more expensive depending on different factors such as classes and lawyer involvement.
The process can sometimes take up to six months so you need to be prepared to wait this amount of time!
Trademarking in the UK
If you’re looking to trademark your business name in the UK, you will need to go through the UK government. You can find the trademark search page and the application page on the UK government website.
Like in the US, trademarks in the UK require an application to be filled out and fees to be paid. The process can take a while too and is similar across countries.
Trademarks in Europe
If you want to file for a trademark in all countries that are a part of the European Union, you can apply for this through EUIPO. This process requires you to already have a trademark in one country and then to fill out a further application through the website to be awarded a trademark across all member nations.
This is a good choice if you’re planning on trading across Europe but is not totally necessary. This process costs around €850. Once accepted, your trademark will continue for ten years until the renewal is required.
The Madrid Protocol
If you want your trademark to extend even further, you can apply for a trademark in countries that are part of the Madrid Protocol. This system works to allow your trademark to be recognized across 125 countries and is available to anyone who has a personal or business connection to one of the states. This means you must be a citizen of or domiciled, or have an industrial or commercial establishment in one of the member states.
A trademark is a good idea if you want to protect your business name but you should take the time to consider whether you really need one. Before applying for a trademark, consider seeking out legal advice to get the best idea as to what you need for your trademark.
Your business name takes a lot of work and wanting to protect it is understandable. If you’re starting the process of setting up a business and you are in need of a new business name, remember to check out our range of dedicated business name generators. These are invaluable resources for anyone creating a new business name!
Frequently asked questions
How much does it cost to copyright a business name?
Technically, you cannot copyright a business name. It does not fall under what can be copyrighted and so cannot be awarded copyright. You can however trademark your business name. The process is generally the same throughout each country’s application process but each country charges a different fee per trademark application. For example, in the US, the application fees start around $250 but can increase quickly if your trademark needs to extend across classes or if you need to pay lawyer fees. If you are applying for trademark protection across all members states of the Europen Union, this application costs €850 on top of the fees to apply in the original country.
How do you legally copyright a business name?
You legally cannot copyright a business name. Copyright covers intellectual property like literary works, design work, graphic work, musical and dramatic works but cannot cover business names. Business names are considered easier to duplicate and so cannot be awarded copyright. Business names can, however, be trademarked. Trademarks can cover business names, slogans, and mottos and can be applied for through your government’s websites.
Do I need to copyright my small business name?
Technically, you cannot copyright your small business name. Business names cannot be copyrighted however you can use copyright to protect elements of your small business, such as your designs. You can, however, trademark your business name. Getting a trademark for your small business name is a long process and so you should consider whether you need one. The best thing to do is to seek out legal advice to work out whether you need a trademark for your business name and whether the long process is worth it.