What is a brand?

At one point or another, we’ve all seen a product or company name with a small circled R floating next to it. You’ve probably wondered what this R symbol actually stands for and how exactly it got there in the first place. Most people will tell you that it means something like “registered”, but that’s only a small part of the meaning behind the circled R.

It is correct that this symbol implies the term registered, but registered with whom and how?

A “registered trademark,” or ®, refers to a name, slogan, or logo that has been officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Registering a trademark is beneficial to a business because it publicly declares that its trademark is registered with the USPTO and therefore you have exclusive rights to that name within your industry. This means that if your business had a registered trademark and you found another business of a similar nature using your name or logo,* you would probably have the legal right to use your name!

Every time a person applies for a trademark, the USPTO cross-references their name and/or design for similarities. ONLY among federally registered or pending trademarks. The USPTO search is not found in the US Common Law AND State Trademark databases. Because the USPTO protects names in this way, you don’t run the risk of another company using and using it! possibly tarnish the reputation of the company you worked so hard to build!

Once you have applied for your trademark, the USPTO will consider it a pending trademark for up to 18 months. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to apply for your trademark sooner rather than later. The sooner you apply, the sooner you’ll be doing business under a protected, registered name!

* This depends on whether the name is actually available at the time of submission. In other words, was there an earlier federal or state trademark? Was there an earlier use of the name in the Common-Law?