The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a list of 10 key steps for new businesses. Many of the to-do’s on the list are well placed and justified, such as choosing a legal structure, registering for state and local taxes, choosing a location, and the like. However, this list is lacking any trademark wisdom.
Building a business without a solid trademark foundation is a tremendous and unnecessary risk. That risk can be significantly reduced if a new business – before it does any commerce – chooses a unique and creative name, clears it with a proper search, consults a trademark attorney, and files a USPTO trademark application.
The SBA’s list references the business name: “Step 6: Register a Business Name (“Doing Business As”) Register your business name with your state government.” However, registering your name with the state is not nearly the same protection that comes from registering the brand name with the USPTO trademark office. Furthermore, the SBA tip says nothing about choosing a unique or creative name in the industry. The SBA does have a good blog post, called The Difference Between a Trade Name and a Trademark – And Why You Can’t Overlook Either available in its materials.
Starting a business without a solid trademark foundation is a tremendous, unnecessary, and unwise risk. The SBA list of 10 Steps to Starting a Business would better serve new businesses if it featured more trademark cautions.