How to Copyright a Business Name: The Beginner’s Guide

Your business name is the identity of your business. Therefore, it’s important that you protect it by applying for registering the copyright and trademark.

Just like the name, your business also needs to have its own visual identity that you can get through a logo.

When you have the two of them, it’s time you protect them from being used by someone else.

Difference between Copyright & Trademark?

To have a better understanding of how copyright and trademark work; it is helpful to know which type of properties each one protects.

One of the main differences is that copyright won’t protect your brand’s name and logo from infringement, but a trademark will.

If you as a business person only copyright your business name or logo without trademarking it; be sure that you can’t protect it fully against any kind of infringement.

You are only securing your rights to it since you have created something, and this is your property. Whereas a trademark can protect your business name and logo if someone wants to use them for their business.

What is Copyright?

A copyright protects the original work like; books, songs, paintings, movies, and all sorts of original work that are present in physical form.

As per US Copyright Office; copyright protects original work including “literature, drama, all other intellectual works.”

Music companies can copyright their audio and video materials, reports, and all other stuff that they produced such as logo and other branding bits and pieces.

It is very important to keep a check on that every original work is copyrighted at the moment when its created. But registering protects it from someone else trying to use or copy it for their business purposes. So if you have a document; you have the right to prove it that this belongs to you.

In short, copyright is made for artistic works protection that is authorship. A symbol for the copyright is ©, but ‘Copyright’ or ‘ Copr’ are also used depending on personal preferences.

Copyright Protection

Do you believe that you already have a copyright in your logo at the moment you draw it?

According to US Copyright Law, every original work of authorship is automatically under protection. So the copyright of unique name and design is automatic.

The law for copyright protects the original work of authorship present in physical form however copyright doesn’t protect facts, ideas, systems.

But this protects the unique way you expressed these things in your work. In simple words; copyright law protects the ‘expression’ of an idea but it doesn’t protect the ‘idea’ itself.

Do you need to trademark your business name?

Certainly yes. By registering your trademark; you declare exclusive rights to it. And this is the best way to prevent someone else from using your name in a similar line.

You get the copyright as soon as you put your original work on a paper; and you will get a trademark once you start using your name and logo for marketing your company.

Though taking some extra steps of registering can give you some extra protection. Registering a trademark protects you from losing the rights if some other business uses the same or even similar name.

If you have a small startup business that you operate in one state and there is no plan to expand it to new markets; then you don’t need to register your names’ trademark because you already have the right to use it in the local market.

On the contrary, if you are planning to expand your business to different states and reaches out to new markets; it is suggested to register your business trademark thus no confusion arises if some other company is using your name.

There are more than 16 million active brands registered officially in the whole world. For example; you start a blog and get a new logo for it.

You will need protection for it to be not used by someone else. So when it comes to registering your visual identity by using it, you have to create a trademark.

You created a visual representation of your brand since your logo is what your clients recognize you by and distinguish you from competitors.

Nonetheless, a trademark offers some more protection; though it thwarts others from stealing your logo or use one which is similar to yours.

So you need to protect your business name and identity, and you have seen the word ‘copyright’ written and you might wonder how you get this one for your business.

In simple words; to protect your business name you need a copyright and trademark from the state department.

Copyright applies to creative work for instance; photography, music, graphics, etc. but on top of this, one cant copyright a business idea.

If you had any idea for a play or drama; you are not able to copyright it until you had created a concrete asset; in written form.

There might be elements of your business which you like to copyright. If you are a visual artist running a company; you need your designs to get copyright that you ultimately use to promote yourself.

You can even apply copyright to your logo; but when it comes to your brand name, you have to go for a trademark.

How to Copyright a Business Name & Logo

There are different steps that you have to take to copyright your business name and logo. Following explained is a brief outline of those steps:

1.      Form submission

Log on to the online registration website and fill out the form for copyright purposes. If you have a business in the US, go to the official site of the US Copyright Office.

This is when you opt for an electronic filing of your copyright application. You can also submit your copyright application in paper form if needed.

However, applying online for your copyright registration is more convenient for you; and also takes only 8 months for processing application, whereas the processing time for your paper form can go up to 13 months.

Despite the way you decide to apply for your registration and the time it needs; your registration becomes effective is when the office will receive your application.

So if you have something to publish, you can do so without getting your official certification, as this needs a lot of time.

2.      Form Filling Process

Once you land on the Copyright Official Website; click on the ‘Online Registration’ button, which will lead you to a form CO that you have to fill out.

There is some personal information required to fill along with the name of the owner or creator of the belongings. Also, mention the nature of the document or other resources for which you are applying for a copyright.

If you need to copyright your logo, you have to show a graphical representation of your business logo.

3.      Pay Fee

The next step is paying a registration fee; once you upload your logo, documents, or other content that you want to get copyrighted.

Pay $35 off the registration fee with any of your debit or credit card, can also use an electronic check or deposit it through a bank account.

After fulfilling the process you will receive a confirmation about your registration; which has a pending status for approval from authorities.

It’s already discussed above that the copyright will be in effect as of the exact date you apply; and not the date of approval.

What to do Before Applying to Copyright a Business Name

Before copyrighting your business name and logo; you have to conduct a trademark search so you will be sure no one else is using the name or logo. This is the crucial part so don’t ignore it.

There is a tool known as the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), which you can find on the web. This TESS database helps search for the trademark.

Conducting a search using this tool is one of the finest ways to know potential conflicts with the existing trademark of some other companies or trademarks which are pending for approvals.

So once you got to know that this name is not currently available at TESS, this is the best time for you to hurriedly apply for the copyright of the business name.

It is also important. You will save money that you would be spending for registration that might not get approval because your name might be too similar to some of the existing trademark.

But keep in mind that the Patent and Trademark Office doesn’t look for conflicting trademarks until you submit your copyright application.

So when you will finish with your trademark search, file a trademark application through a Trademark Electronic Application System.

There you will again get a form to fill out after you decide which application is best suitable for you. You can choose from three application forms;

  • TEAS Plus
  • TEAS Reduced
  • TEAD Regular

If you select the ‘intent-to-use basis’ in your form, you will have to pay some additional fee of $50 for one class of services.

After submitting the registration form, you will receive confirmation through email and you will have to wait for the approval.

After three months of application submission, it will be reviewed by the attorney; the one who will determine whether your application meets all legal requirements necessary or not.

Keep on checking your application status after every 3-4 months and you can do this using the Trademark Status & Document Retrieval (TSDR).

Enforcing Copyright Rights

Once you got your business name trademarked and copyrighted; now you are responsible for enforcing your trademark and copyright rights to make sure that your name and visual components are safe.

Legally nobody can use your name and identity against you. You have full authority for suing them if someone tends to do so.

Though, US Patent and Trademark Office ensure that no one can register the same or seemingly identical name or mark as yours.

Now, this is your responsibility to protect the rights to your company’s intellectual property if someone tries to use it.

There are two legal options for you when talking about legal action to protect your trademark against infringement.

Either you can send a cease and letter or opt for a trademark infringement lawsuit. You will find companies that can help you establish a ‘trademark watch’ to ensure no other party tries to use your company’s mark.

Also, you can hire an attorney to keep a check on your copyright and trademark infringement so he can advise you on how to proceed to obtain your name protection you need.

Talking about hiring an attorney, some people decide to hire an attorney to help them with the whole copyright a name process.

Though, this is not necessary since you can do absolutely everything on your own as the process is pretty simple and hassle-free; not to mention that an attorney can be pretty expensive.

Copyright Infringement

When your business name is copied, distributed, or publicly shown with the permission of the owner it’s considered the copyright infringement.

To get compensation, you have to prove that person copied or used your company’s name and identity. After you proved that infringement was made, you have the authority to sue the infringing side.

Just to avoid any copyright infringement treat logo the same as you would any other photographer. And don’t use it anywhere.

You are more likely to have a copyright dispute over a stock photo that you put on your blog than a logo.

Some tips to keep in mind about copyright

  • Copyright professionals estimate that 85% of the US works published until 1963 are in the public domain. The amount of time and endeavor put into any work has no bearing on the copyright status.
  • Copyright for any work begins when the work comes up in any sort of tangible form. This includes written on paper or saved in computers in any soft form.
  • Email is another form of copyright content as soon as it is written or sent. Public stuff cant is copyrighted as the law allows it to be used by anyone.
  • Copyright violation is most of the time falls in a civil rather than in a criminal matter.
  • Do some more groundwork, and register your business name and logo with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
  • It’s a good idea to check the domain name of your proposed trademark. It is important to mention if someone else owns the domain name.
  • Try not to be active literal with your business name as anything descriptive will be flatly rejected. Like if your name is closely related to some product or service; you might lose it before filing.
  • The best way to ensure successful copyright and trademark is to create a unique name that will be regarded as coined words.
  • This is one of the main reasons why some brand names become household consumer names as they have made a new splash in the market.

Bottom Line

Copyright and trademark can protect your intellectual property. But there are different kinds of protection as they are associated with protecting different assets.

Copyright mainly protects literary and artistic works, while a trademark is focusing more on protecting items that define and identify a company’s brand.

Company assets not only represent your money but they also include intellectual property which boosts your worth in the industry.

So you should protect your rights to the property to ensure that a third party won’t use them without your consent.

Copyright offers you that kind of protection, so this is very important that your register for copyright and make sure that your business name is secure.

There is no doubt that one of the most influential factors of business success is a strong name. So act wisely and go for copyright and trademark so there is no fear of name misused by someone.

This is how you will focus more on the productivity of your business and less frustration on these legal issues.

It’s better to invest in the time to secure yourself, your company name, and time.