Murray’s Law: Can I trademark a name so that other people won’t use it and I can save it for later? – Off the Mark

Murray’s Law: Can I trademark a name so that other people won’t use it and I can save it for later?

Video Transcript

Today's Murray's Law is an excellent question. Can I trademark a name so that other people won't use it and I can save it for later? While I save it for later? So can I take this name, can I register for a trademark just so I can take it off the market? And the answer to that question is yes and no, I guess would be the answer to that question. So here's the deal. Trademarks protect brand identifiers. Those are those things that help people, or help consumers identify the source of a good or service. If you aren't providing a good or a service then you don't have a trademark. So if you come up with an amazing name, a lot of times we're doing random stuff and we're like, "Oh my gosh, that is such an amazing name. I need to save this for later. I wanna make sure that no one grabs it." You can't do that.

You can only do it if you are using it in association with a good or a service. If there's no good or service there's no trademark. Now on the other hand, if you're doing random stuff and you come up with this amazing name you're like, "You know what? That's gonna be a perfect name for my business that I'm going to start." And this business I'm gonna provide, this good or this service, now we're cooking with hot grease. Now we're talking about something that you can protect. There's was a time when you could only protect trademarks if they were in actual use, now the USPTO allows you to file what's called an intent to use trademark application, which essentially says, "Hey, I'm not using this mark in commerce yet, but I have a bonafide intent to use this trademark in association with a good or services." So what that means is it's not just, "Oh one day I'm gonna have a business and I'm gonna use this trademark."

It is, "Okay, I'm gonna plan this business. I'm gonna have this business one day, I'm not quite ready yet, but I'm making all these steps so that I can launch my business." You know when we launch businesses it's not just, business idea is one day and launch the next. A lot of times it's like, "Oh my gosh, this would be such and awesome idea. Let me see what the market thinks about it. Let me see how much it costs to start this business. Let me see this and that and get everything together." So while you're getting all that together, and getting your marketing together, and coming up with a launch campaign, and you have this great name associated with your business, you can trademark that name.

You can trademark that logo or whatever that brand identifier is gonna be so that while you're in this launching phase, in this building phase, nobody beats you to it because it would be awful, just awful for you to be doing all this work and preparing to launch your business and someone comes and takes your trademark because you hadn't filed an intent to use application. I've seen it happen and people are just devastated. They spends tens of thousands of dollars on marketing, and branding, and now they have to go back to the drawing board. So the answer to the question again is as long you have a bonafide intent to use that mark in the future in association with a good or services, then yes, you can file a trademark to go ahead and reserve that name and take it off the market before anyone else. Because what that does, remember trademarks aren't just for same they're also for similar, so what that does is prevent someone else from using a similar name as you as well.

Because let's say you didn't file it, and maybe they didn't take your exact name, but they did something similar, and they're in the same or related field as you, now you can't move forward with that brand that you have spent all this time building and preparing to launch. So I believe that if you are in business and you have bonafide intent to use a certain mark you do need to get a registered trademark. You need to go ahead and file and intent to use application. So that is today's Murray's Law.

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