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Can You Trademark a Name Without a Business?


Can You Trademark a Name Without a Business?

If someone wants to trademark a name for personal reasons but has no plans to ever create a business with it, they will not be granted a trademark by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Trademarks are only for use in the business world, and personal trademarks are not allowed or registered.

Can You Trademark a Name for a Business That Hasn’t Opened Yet?

For those preparing to start a business that hasn’t opened yet, but concrete plans and schedules are in place, the trademark process can begin. It starts by applying for the trademark as an “Intent to Use,” which lets the USPTO know that business planning is underway.

What If You Don’t Know the Business’s Name Yet?

The USPTO does not register generic names or placeholders. The trademark name needs to be distinctive, and it needs to have long-term potential. That’s not to say that someone couldn’t change a business name later and apply for a new trademark, but simply requesting a trademark for someone’s personal name, for example, when the business itself has nothing to do with that person’s name, will not win a trademark.

How Does Someone Find a Unique Business Name to Trademark?

There are a couple of steps for this. First, and possibly the most difficult, is to come up with a variety of names that will work for the business. Second—and most importantly—is to search those names in the USPTO’s database of registered trademarks. It may have sounded like the most unique business name ever, but as many people have found out the hard way, there’s always the possibility that someone else had that idea too. If someone wants to open a bakery called Best Bakery and doesn’t do the research, they might be stunned to learn that there’s a bakery with that name trademarked. And they might find that out when they get a cease-and-desist letter from the other bakery’s lawyer.

Let Us Advise You

When you need help navigating trademark laws and processes, call us at 317-663-9190 to set up an appointment with one of our experienced business lawyers. We can also assist in the registered trademarks research and provide advice on whether a chosen name is too close to something already trademarked.