How to Trademark a Name: Identifying the Owner of the Mark

There are several critical fields within the trademark application form that must be filled out correctly in order for you to have a valid trademark registration. One of the most common questions we receive from clients who are trying to understand how to trademark a name, is whether they should register the trademark in their personal name or in the name of their company.

The trademark application form contains a section called “applicant information.” The first data field asks the applicant to list the “owner of the mark” as well as the street, city, state, country and zip code. Many applicants are tempted to list the trademark in their personal name for a variety of reasons. Some applicants believe that listing themselves as the owner of the trademark somehow gives them more control. If there are multiple owners of the company, one owner may feel justified in claiming ownership of the trademark separately from the company. Perhaps they “thought of the name.”

In all but rare cases, you always want to own trademarks through a legal entity. You should avoid ever registering a trademark in your personal name. The reason is simple. If you list yourself as the owner of the mark, you will be setting yourself up for personal liability if there are any problems down the line.

What many people fail to realize when they start the process of registering a trademark is that filing the mark with the USPTO puts the world on notice that they are claiming exclusive ownership rights over the literal mark, as well as anything that might be confusingly similar. Many companies monitor trademark filings in order to protect their own marks. It is not uncommon for a third party to oppose your trademark application because the third party believes you may be infringing on their previously registered trademark. In some instances, a third party may send a trademark infringement threat letter to the person listed as the owner of the mark in the application demanding that the application be withdrawn. Worse, these trademark infringement threat letters typically demand that the owner of the mark cease any further use of the proposed trademark registration. This means that if you are already using the mark in business, the third party will be demanding that you stop all use.

Because of the potential liability which exists every time you file a for trademark registration, it is important to register the mark in the name of a company and thereby insulate yourself from personal liability. For more information about how to trademark a name, you can visit one of our web sites which provide comprehensive “how-to” information about the trademark registration process.