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Wyoming Business Tips for March 5-11

February 24, 2017

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Antoinette (Toni) Tease, guest columnist

“I am starting a new company, and money is tight. What do I really need to worry about when naming my business, selecting a website domain and naming my new products?” Jody, Casper

Whether you are a new business owner or an experienced entrepreneur starting up a new business, these seven tips will save you money when it comes to your trademarks and domain names:

-- Conduct at least an informal trademark search before adopting a company or product name. This search should be conducted on a federal level and should take into consideration both the similarity of the marks and the relatedness of the goods or services.

-- Retain counsel to file your federal trademark application. From time to time, we inherit trademark files where the client has handled the initial filing on his or her own. Unfortunately, filing a federal trademark application does not simply entail entering data online but, rather, understanding the underlying law and rules pertaining to the registration of trademarks.

-- Think about, and budget for, foreign markets. The foreign filing deadline for claiming priority back to your U.S. trademark application is six months after the U.S. filing date. These six months can be important because most foreign countries are first-to-file, where the U.S. is first-to-use.

-- Send cease-and-desist letters early if you discover an infringement of your mark. This may sound counterintuitive, but, if you wait until the infringer has opened his or her business, registered a domain name, launched a website and invested in social media, that person will be less likely to want to resolve a trademark infringement dispute.

-- When filing intent-to-use applications, be as comprehensive as possible in terms of the inclusion of goods and services. Once a trademark application is filed, you cannot add goods or services to it; however, you can always drop goods and services.

-- Similarly, you should not change your mark once it has been registered, unless you are prepared to start from scratch with the trademark registration process.

-- Make sure that all domain names are registered in your own name. We often encounter situations in which our clients’ domain names are registered in the name of the website development firm.

Antoinette (Toni) Tease is an intellectual property attorney in Billings, Mont. Her website is www.teaselaw.com.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at www.wyomingsbdc.org/blog1/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email wsbdc@uwyo.edu, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.


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