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Checklist: Documents to Collect When Trademarking Your Business Name

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You may not realize it initially, but your business name is your primary brand. When customers and partners think about your products or services, they will always be linked to your business name; that is why it's so important to do thorough trademark research before you settle on a business name.

Keep in mind that business registration in many states automatically registers the name as well. But if your business name is Garden Depot LLC and you sell goods under the "Garden Depot" name (without the LLC), then this is technically a fictitious business name. Similarly, a sole proprietorship -- which is registered under the owner's personal name -- typically does business under a DBA (or "doing business as..."). 

Make sure you fully understand the laws and regulations of your state with respect to business name registration. See FindLaw's Trademarks and Choosing Your Business Name sections to learn more.

When you apply for a trademark or service mark for your business name, you will need to provide certain documents to your attorney. Below is a list of documents commonly requested for this procedure; but make sure you get a full list from your attorney, as each business and situation may vary.

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Partnership agreement, if applicable. See a list of real-life partnership agreements to get an idea of what they entail.

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Articles of incorporation, if applicable. See Writing and Filing the Articles of Incorporation to learn more.

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Exact copy of mark you want to register. See Depiction of the Mark (Drawing) for an overview.

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Specimens of mark you want to register.

A specimen is a real-world example of how the mark is actually used on goods or in the offer of services. Labels, tags, or containers for the goods are considered to be acceptable specimens of use for a trademark. For a service mark, specimens may be advertising such as magazine advertisements or brochures. Actual specimens, rather than facsimiles, are preferred. However, if the actual specimens are bulky, or larger than 8" x 11", then the applicant must submit facsimiles, (e.g., photographs or good photocopies) of the specimens. Facsimiles may not exceed 8" x 11". One specimen is required for each class of goods or services specified in the application.

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If concurrent registration of the mark has previously been allowed, an example of the other concurrently registered mark.

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Copy of past or present certificate of registration and/or notice of allowance.

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If the application is based on foreign registration, a certification or certified copy of the foreign registration.

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Opinions, reports, or decisions of the Patent and Trademark Office on past applications or registrations of mark.

Get Professional Legal Help Before Registering Your Business Name

Intellectual property law can get quite complicated, but it really depends on the needs and nature of your business, and the matters at hand. Talking to a trademark law attorney is the best way to ensure compliance with the law and protection of your valuable brand assets. After all, your business name is your main brand.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified business attorney to help you identify
how to best protect your business' intellectual property.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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