Startup Companies and Trademarks, an Attorney's View

By: Michael J Foycik Jr. 
April 27, 2013 
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at, or call at 877-654-3336.

An important decision facing new startup companies is what to do about trademarks.  The question is, should they apply for a federal trademark registration.  The answer to that depends very much on the goals for the startup.

If the goal of the owner of the startup company is to succed and then sell at a profit, then a federal trademark is essential.  Think about it from the perspective of a buyer: without a trademark, that buyer cannot get the goodwill of the startup company.  That goodwill includes such things as name recognition by customers, and loyalty all those dealing with the existing company.  But, without official trademark rights, the buyer may not have exclusive rights to the use of the trademark, and imitators could flourish.

Some startups need investors, and investors are more comfortable when they see rights owned by the startup.  After all, what are they investing in, if not intellectual property rights of some kind?  Those rights commonly are from a good trade name or trademark.  Other such IP rights can include trade secrets, patents, or copyrights.