Registering a business name and applying for a tax identification number, also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN), are important first steps to establishing a new business. The trademark registration of a business name is not always necessary, but doing so can prevent future allegations of trademark infringement or market confusion. Once your business has a name, you are ready to acquire an EIN. An EIN provides your business with a unique identification number for tax purposes. Most businesses are required by the IRS to have an EIN.
Learn the general rules and requirements for applying for a trademark registration, which are available for viewing at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. The rules and requirements are available in video and booklet format.
Conduct a free search on the USPTO database using their Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) for possible matches to the name, or design, you would like to use for your business. Searches can also be conducted at the Public Search Facility in Arlington, Virginia, or a local Patent and Trademark Depository Library.
Prepare a detailed description of the goods and services your business will offer, as well as a clear representation of your mark (business name and design, if including one). These items are a necessary part of the trademark application. Use of the “Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual” is available on the USPTO websites.
Review the USPTO rules and regulations for registering a trademark as well as the USPTO recommended “trademark video” that covers the important topics related to filing a trademark application to be sure that your application is complete. File your trademark application using either the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) or by paper application and standard mail. The entire application process for a trademark can take from one year to several years.
Apply for an EIN by either filing Form SS-4 (which is available for download in PDF format on the IRS website) or calling the IRS’s toll free Business & Specialty Tax Line. The most efficient method of filing is online application, but the option to fax or mail your Form SS-4 is available. Online applications are processed immediately. Faxed applications can take 2 to 3 day for processing. Standard mail can take up to four weeks.
Keep your trademark application serial number in a safe location where you can easily access it should you need to communicate with USPTO regarding your application. Review IRS requirements for obtaining an EIN before filing a Form SS-4.
Registering a trademark is a legal process. Be sure to fully understand all of the USPTO rules and requirements before submitting an application.
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