IP for startups: when should you file for a trademark?
IP for startups: when should you file for a trademark?
Christian Vierling
Christian Vierling
March 28, 2023

Building a brand from scratch requires patience, resilience, and the execution of a perfect idea. In contemporary times, it is critical to understand the value of trademarks, to establish a strong brand identity and to build a business without worrying about counterfeiting and cyber theft.

To understand better, it is important to recognize the value of a trademark for a startup establishment and how trademark registration services can help. This discussion gives insights into when and how to file for a trademark.

Why file a trademark early on?

Building and growing your startup in a competitive space can be exceptionally tough, specifically if it is not funded by external investors. Many brands make the mistake of not filing a trademark early on which could ultimately make or break their startup. 

A registered trademark is vital for brand reputation and prevents other competitors from using your name and creations. Having a trademark makes it easier to fight all infringements, including counterfeits and unauthorized use of your brand.

For instance, you have a trademark for the business name ‘Juice Land’ and a competitor opens a juice cafe next to yours with the name ‘Juice Land Plus’. In this case, you can take legal action against the juice cafe for deceiving potential customers and harming your client base by picking a similar name within the same business field..

Investing in Intellectual Property (IP) assets, including trademarks and copyrights, adds value to your startup valuation and establishes customer credibility.

When to file a trademark for your startup

Ideally, a business trademark registration should be done before launching your startup. Often, founders decide on their business name after ensuring its availability on social media platforms and domain names only.

However, the truth is that without trademark registration lookup, your startup risks losing all of its investments. Your business name may already be trademarked and used by another company.

Subsequently, filing a trademark before launching your brand can be helpful to prove the ‘date of use’. This is important if your trademark application is challenged to be fraudulent. In this case, you can prove your business first used it. 

Startups should also take into account the processing time to register a trademark. Depending on the jurisdiction and category of the trademark, it could take months or even years to get the outcome of the trademark application filed. How to file for a trademark

Decided to file for a trademark but feel overwhelmed with all the information available online? Simply follow these 5 steps and protect your startup.

  • Trademark Search

The first step for your application process is to do a trademark name search to ensure no other individual or corporation has already registered it in your business field and jurisdiction. 

While other law firms charge a hefty amount for it, you can do a comprehensive free name search for your startup with Digip.

  • Determine Classes  

It is essential to determine the class of goods or services your trademark pertains to when submitting a request for trademark registration. It is important to pick the correct class since it could result in your application being rejected.

In the US, there are 45 classes/categories where you can file your trademark. Let’s assume you are selling from your branded clothing line. In this case, your products fall under class 25 (clothing)

  • Submitting Application

It is important to consider that each jurisdiction has designated Intellectual Property Offices where you file for a trademark. Subsequently, a trademark protects your brand only in the jurisdiction it is filed in.

If you want to file in the US, you must submit an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Similarly, European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) handles all trademark applications for the European Union.

  • Required Fees

The cost of filing a trademark differs for each area and the number of classes you are filing the trademark in. It could cost you anywhere between 250 USD to 750 USD in the US. EUIPO charges, on average, 850-1200 Euros. (900-1300 USD)

  • Objection/response Period

After filing your trademark application, an objection can be received. This could be due to numerous reasons, such as the trademark being too similar, incorrect information, incorrect class, or more. The applicant is required to reply within 30 days.

Data from the US Census Bureau shows that an average of 4 million businesses are started every year. However, most of them end up exiting within a year. 

It is extremely important to invest in Intellectual Property early on in your startup to establish your brand and thrive.

March 28, 2023
Christian Vierling
Christian Vierling
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