Can you start a business without a trademark? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that it depends on what you want for your business. How much protection do you want for the products and services you provide? How much growth do you anticipate and who are your competitors? Ultimately, if you’re planning to expand your business outside of your local area, you’ll want to protect your work. This article will provide you with the reasons why you should trademark your business and resources to help you get the process started. (For a more in-depth look at intellectual property basics as they relate to start-ups, check our post here.) Can You Start a Business Without a Trademark? A trademark is meant to protect your ideas and company assets. Starting a business without a trademark isn’t recommended, and here’s why: Trademarks protect your brand—and everything involved in marketing it. Your brand assets can include but are not limited to the following: \tBusiness names \tLogos \tSpecific color schemes \tSlogans \tA product or service unique to your business So, what happens if you go to market without a trademark? You’ll get limited protection based on where you operate. This means that you won’t be able to enforce your intellectual property rights outside of a specific geographic area. Ultimately, you and your business will be left vulnerable to brand theft. Deciding to Register a Trademark The advantages of obtaining a trademark for your business far outweigh the disadvantages. Below are just a few examples of both: Advantages \tIt protects your brand–even internationally: A registered trademark protects the name of your business, your logo, and any taglines you use. Your competitors can never use any of these assets. If they do, you can take legal action. \tBuilds customer loyalty and trust: Current and prospective customers will recognize your trademark and they know they are getting authenticity when they purchase your products. \tIt protects your brand on social media: If someone creates a page using your trademark, just prove that you have it registered, and their created account will be suspended. \tAdds business value: If you ever decide to sell your company, you will get a higher dollar amount compared to a brand that has not been registered. Potential buyers will feel more secure knowing that they are obtaining and can retain a reputable brand. \tYou have first right to the domain: If someone else owns the domain name for your business, you can file a request to shut it down. \tIt’s worth the cost: Obtaining a registered trademark is inexpensive, and the ROI you receive continues to increase your revenue. Disadvantages \tThe process is lengthy: Not everyone has the patience to wait for their trademark. Between the paperwork, reviews, submission, and approval, you will invest a lot of time and energy and wait more than a year until your trademark is finally approved. \tThe process is complex: Dealing with the government policy can be difficult, with many layers. The entire process has many components, so you may have to wait a year or more to obtain your registered trademark. \tOpportunities for others to dispute: Anyone, including your competitors, who thinks you do not have the right to a particular brand name or logo. In the end, you may have to spend more money for legal fees to defend your untrademarked brand. When you’re starting a business, we get that you want to get up and running (and profitable) quickly. However, taking the time to research your company name, all its brand assets and protecting the overall brand is worth it. Not only do you better protect your business, but a trademark helps develop brand loyalty and adds value to your business—now and in the future. We understand that starting a business can be stressful. So, can you start a business without a trademark, and is it a good idea? You can, but we wouldn’t recommend it. The experts at Bold Patents can help you streamline the trademark process while you work on your business and the products and services your consumers are waiting for. To consult with trademark attorney, call 800-849-1913 or contact us here.