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how can i protect my name?

I plan on _eventually_ starting my own independent consulting someday and last night I thought of a great name.  I checked google to see if any hits came up for the name on the web (hardly thorough research) and am pretty satisfied no one is _using_ the name right now.

My question is, how do I go about verifying no one has the rights to the name and how can I go about claiming the name as mine.  I plan on registering the domain some time in the near future.

Joel, if your listening, can you relate the process that you went through to get fog creek going?

thx

Rick
Friday, August 23, 2002

You need to register (at least in Australia):

- a business/trading name
- a trademark
- a domain

Not necessarily in that order.

Matthew Lock
Friday, August 23, 2002

I'd go ahead and register the domain name if it is available just so you know you will get it.  Personally I let a lawyer take care of the search and registering just because they have done it so much, they can do it a lot quicker.

Chris
Friday, August 23, 2002

[
You need to register (at least in Australia):

- a business/trading name
- a trademark
- a domain
]

I just wanted to add two things - 

In the US business trade names are usually registered on the state level and have to be filed with each state you intend to do business in. Trademarks are usually registered with the federal government and are accordingly more expensive and take more time. I recommend finding a good local lawyer to take care of that for you.

Also - remember to register each name you want to use as a trade name. For example, if you business is actually named "Ricksoft, LLC" but you want to refer to it as just "Ricksoft" you must register that name also. Each and every trademark or state tradename that you intend to use must be registered.  Again, talk to a lawyer, it should be a relatively cheap request.

Ian Stallings
Friday, August 23, 2002

You can register your trademark online in the US at www.uspto.gov.

Any reasonably diligent person can do it themself. THey have plenty of online help.

Here's the caveats:

1) $350 per trademark and per usage. This is a nonrefundable application fee.

So if you want to protect your name for consulting, for software, and for tee-shirts (3 categories), that's $1050. Sports jackets and caps could add another $700. If your logo comes in two different forms, multiply the total by two.

2) You need to do a search to make sure no one else has that trademark in your desired usage. You can leave this up to them but that just means that you'll be out the application fee if they come up with any matches. fortunately, they have an online database, and there is also a searchable database available at many large libraries. It's easy to use and not as subtle as doing a patent search so would be hard to go wrong.

3) You need to be shipping product before applying as you will have to give them a sample of your logo as it appears on your product and the date of first sale. This sale MUST have been part of US interstate commerce. If you are not doing trade between states in the US, you do not qualify for a federal trademark, though you can apply for one at the state level.  If you are not shipping product yet, you can have them set aside a trademark you might use in the future but you will have to pay for this privledge, and still pay again for the real trademark when your start selling stuff.

4) If you do not have a product but a service (consulting) then you apply for a service mark not a trademark which has its own different rules.

When it's approved you get a spiffy certificate that you can put on the wall. It looks very impressive, BTW.

The process is not hard.
I am not a lawyer and the above is not legal advice.

X. J. Scott
Friday, August 23, 2002

I believe that in the UK you also need to be using a trademark before you can register it.

David Clayworth
Friday, August 23, 2002

I'd register the domain and not worry too much else about it. The company name for an independent consultant is practically irrelevant.

pb
Friday, August 23, 2002

pb, as someone who's seen a company forced to change its name because it was shared with some obscure company, I'd take the long view -- what if the consultant decides to sell shrinkwrapped software under its brand?

Then again, the new name was 100X better than the old, so in this case it was a godsend.

Greg Neumann
Friday, August 23, 2002

Exactly. It's not that big a deal.

pb
Friday, August 23, 2002

You form a corporation to protect it.  I advise you only to do this if you are serious, as it will complicate your tax return, even if you don't use it..  Look into the pros and cons of an S-corp, Corp, and LLC in your state. 

Bella
Friday, August 23, 2002

have a name like Tapiwa ... http://www.tapiwa.com

not too many Tapiwa's in this world thank goodness.

tapiwa
Saturday, August 24, 2002

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