tm logo


Trademark Guides

Joint Trademark Ownership

Exploring Joint Trademark Ownership

Lindokuhle Mkhize

Lindokuhle Mkhize

22 September 20234 min read

share this blog

Joint Trademark Ownership

So, picture this: you've started your own small business and want to make sure your brand stands out from the crowd. That's where trademarks come in. They're like the superpower that helps you protect your business name, logo, or slogan from others who might try to copy or steal them.

Now, let's imagine you're not the only one in this game. 

Maybe you've teamed up with a friend who shares your passion for entrepreneurship or joined forces with another small business owner. That's called joint trademark ownership. It means you both have equal ownership rights over the trademark. Together, you can accomplish great things, and create as well as strengthen your business identity.

In this blog article, we'll explore the concept of a joint venture for trademark control and ownership, its pros and cons, the trademark registration process, and key considerations for aspiring business owners.

Understanding joint trademark ownership:

Joint trademark ownership refers to the practice of an agreement between two or more entities sharing ownership rights over a registered trademark. This arrangement can occur between two parties, individuals or businesses. It can even be facilitated across international borders.

What are the pros and cons of joint trademark ownership?

So, what are the advantages of joint trademark ownership? First, it lightens the load on your shoulders. You and your partner can share the responsibilities of running and promoting the business. Plus, it's an opportunity to combine your skills and other owners' expertise to improve your company and brand.

But we have to talk about the challenges, too. When making decisions, you need to work together and find common ground. Remember, teamwork makes the dream work! You'll be on the right track if you communicate openly, listen to each other, and involve your partner in important choices.

To provide a more clear overview, we've put together the most pressing factors to consider:

The trademark registration process:

Aspiring business owners must navigate the trademark registration process diligently. Here are some key steps involved in trademark law:

Preliminary trademark search:

Conduct a comprehensive search to ensure the trademark is available for registration and does not infringe upon existing trademarks.

Filing for trademark registration:

Submit a trademark application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Consider utilizing online filing services for convenience and efficiency.

Examination and publication:

The USPTO examines the application for compliance with legal requirements. The trademark is published in the Official Gazette for public opposition if approved.

Key considerations for joint trademark owners:

Here are some key things for joint trademark owners to think about:

Drafting joint ownership agreements:

Establish clear guidelines and responsibilities through legally binding agreements, such as co-ownership agreements, to address decision-making, profit-sharing, and dispute-resolution mechanisms.

Trademark assignment:

Clearly define the procedures for transferring or assigning ownership interests in case of changes in circumstances of the business structure or partnerships.

Maintaining active use:

Joint owners must actively use the trademark in commerce to maintain legal protection. Failure to do so may result in cancellation or loss of enforceability.

Monitoring and enforcement:

Regularly monitor the marketplace for potential infringement, and be prepared to take necessary actions to protect the trademark or business's intellectual property and integrity.

Here's a cool tip: when you're in a joint ownership situation, it's essential to have an agreement with your partner. It's like a set of rules that outline each person's rights, responsibilities, and how you'll handle any conflicts. This way, you can focus on growing your business without unnecessary headaches.

A joint venture agreement can be transferred to new joint owners

Oh, and what happens if you ever decide to sell your small business or bring someone new on board? That's when trademark assignment comes into play. You'd need to transfer ownership of the trademark to someone else. Just make sure to document the change and let the USPTO know about it so they'll recognize the new owner.

One more thing – let's talk about trademark attorneys. These professionals are like the Sherlock Holmes of trademark law. They can be your secret weapon if you ever find yourself in a legal pickle or need guidance through the process. They'll help you navigate all the legal jargon and protect your trademark.

Joint trademark ownership still makes you a trademark owner

Joint trademark ownership can be an effective strategy for aspiring entrepreneurs, offering unique advantages and challenges.

 By understanding the trademark registration process, seeking expert guidance, using legal contracts, and establishing clear agreements with joint owners, young business owners can successfully navigate the complexities of trademark ownership. Remember, trademarks are the cornerstone of a brand's identity and should be owned and handled with care and diligence.


What creates trademark ownership?

You are considered a trademark owner as soon as you begin utilizing your trademark with your products or services. By using your trademark, you acquire rights to it, but those rights are only valid for the region where you sell your products or services.

Can an individual be the owner of a trademark?

Individuals, corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, sole proprietorships, trusts, estates, and more can all be trademark owners.

Do registered trademarks belong to respective owners?

Every trademark, logo, and brand name that’s registered belongs to its rightful owner.

Can a trademark be the name of a person?

Yes, a trademark can be a person's name, provided that it doesn’t conflict with existing trademarks. 

share this blog

Lindokuhle Mkhize, a skilled creative copywriter and content lead at Trademarkia, brings a wealth of experience in driving innovation and managing teams. With previous success in starting and growing the Innovation and Marketing department at her former creative agency, Lindokuhle boasts expertise in leadership and delivering compelling content. Based in South Africa, Lindokuhle's work focuses on key themes of creativity, effective communication, and strategic marketing.