Can You Trademark a Non-Profit Business?
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The short answer is: yes, you can trademark a non-profit business. But it may not always be a good decision. In this article, we’ll take this issue into more depth.
We'll look at when securing the intellectual property of a non-profit business is a good idea.
With further ado, let's get started.
Are common law trademark rights enough?
You'll have a degree of trademark protection even if you don't officially register your trademark for your small business. We know this as legal protection under the common law.
You can legally use the ™ symbol even under the common law.
However, remember that these rights are only generated with use. And so if you've not been using the trademark, your business won't be protected.
Now, let's look at the downsides:
If you wish to expand, your legal protection will limit to the area in which you use your trademark.
You also won't know if other similar marks are registered. This means that you could be infringing on someone else's trademark and not know it.
As you can imagine, this could cause legal issues down the road.
The benefits of trademark registration
You can enjoy numerous benefits if you decide on non-profit trademark registration. Having a federally registered trademark provides the following:
- An enhanced capacity for dispute resolution: this is acquired solely because you'll get indisputable proof of ownership.
- Potential compensation: when registering a trademark, you get many legal benefits. For example, you could be awarded for any damages that may accrue due to an infringement.
- Extensive legal protection: with official registration from the trademark office, your intellectual property will be protected in all 50 states. Of course, this also means that you have the chance to expand out of your current location.
- Federal court access: should there be an infringement on your federal trademark, your non-profit has full rights to access the court system and address the issue.
As you can see, the benefits are apparent. However, remember that it's not (in the slightest) free.
The costs to trademark a non-profit business
Getting a federal trademark is a costly undertaking.
The trademark process is time-intensive and can put a dent in your budget, which is often quite tight as an NGO.
This is why you must carefully consider whether registering a trademark is a good idea for your business. It may be a good choice for you if:
- You have plans to expand your business.
- You're interested in protecting yourself in the case of intellectual property disputes.
- You're well-established and are at risk of trademark infringement.
Hiring a trademark attorney will put you in good stead for successful registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It'll also prevent any issues (and the related additional costs) from occurring.
Either way, be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars and wait (possibly) over a year for your trademark filing and registration.
It depends on you
Remember that it depends on you and your unique goals when deciding whether to trademark your non-profit organization.
It comes down to this: trademark registration has numerous benefits, but it may be best to put it on hold for now if it's out of your budget.
How much does it cost to trademark a non-profit name?
The cost to trademark a non-profit name is the same as a for-profit company. It's typically a few hundred dollars.
Can you trademark the name of an organization?
Yes, you can apply for trademarks on the name of an organization. This is the usual way of protecting your business.
Should I trademark my business name or logo?
Usually, there's greater value to registering your business name as there tends to be more recognition of it. Logos also tend to change more often than names, making them a worse trademark choice.
How long does a trademark last?
Trademarks don't expire. The trademark protection will continue if the trademark owner uses the registered trademark in commerce and periodically renews it.
How soon should I trademark my business?
Well, it depends on the business. For certain corporations, filing a trademark application straight after registering the business would be best. However, it may be better for an NGO (such as an orphanage) to wait until they have sufficient funds to register their trademark.
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Joshua J. Brouard brings a rich and varied background to his writing endeavors. With a bachelor of commerce degree and a major in law, he possesses an affinity for tackling business-related challenges. His first writing position at a startup proved instrumental in cultivating his robust business acumen, given his integral role in steering the company's expansion. Complementing this is his extensive track record of producing content across diverse domains for various digital marketing agencies.
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