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You put a great deal of effort in choosing the perfect name for your business. You registered the business with the Secretary of State in every state in which you operate. That’s all you need to own your business name, right? Wrong.
Registering your business with the Secretary of State only means no other business in your state has the exact same name. There could be businesses in other states with the exact same name, or very similar names. There could even be a business in your state that is operating as a sole proprietorship under an assumed name that
Continue Reading Do You REALLY Own Your Business Name?


The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants patents to inventions every day. Not every application succeeds in becoming a granted patent, though. Important requirements must be met in order for an invention to be patented.

Novelty: An invention or one very similar to it must already be patented, described in someone else’s patent or patent application, described in a printed publication, on sale, or in public use before the application date (with some exceptions granting the inventor a grace period of one year prior to the application date).

Usefulness: This is a low bar to meet, fortunately.
Continue Reading Can You Patent Your Idea?

You know you have something worth protecting. But what kind of protection do you need? Do you trademark or copyright your business name? Do you copyright or patent your graphic design? Do you patent or trademark your product packaging? While sometimes more than one option is possible, there are general broad distinctions that can help you know what you need.


A trademark is a word, phrase, image, sound, scent, unique packaging design, store design elements, or a combination of those, that is used to identify a source of goods or services and distinguish it from others. It is a
Continue Reading Trademark, Copyright, or Patent: Which Covers What?

Selecting the right business entity from the beginning helps ensure smooth operation and growth of your business.
There are several basic business entities to choose from:

  • Sole Proprietorships
  • Corporations (S-Corporations and C-Corporations
  • Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies

There are many issues to consider when deciding which entity is best for your situation, including

  • Who are the owners?
  • Will the owners be one person, a group of people, or an existing business entity?
  • Who will operate or manage the business?
  • Will it be the owners or someone else?
  • What is the purpose of the business?
  • How should taxes be paid?
  • Do you

Continue Reading How Do I Know What Type of Business Entity to Choose?

You may have heard you can protect your invention by describing it in a written document and mailing that document to yourself in a sealed envelope by mail that shows proof of delivery. That unopened, dated document with the date confirmed by the proof of delivery does help show when you invented something. Unfortunately, that’s largely meaningless in terms of legal protection. An official patent application is a must.
Since 2013, patent laws in the United States are governed by “first to file” rules. That means that if two people who invent the same thing independently, the first to file
Continue Reading No Such Thing as a Poor Man’s Patent: File Your Patent Application ASAP!

Registering your business name as a trademark is essential for making sure no one else comes along and takes advantage of the hard work you’ve done on your branding by copying your name outright or using something similar.
You have some common-law rights to your business name and/or logo (your marks) if you don’t register them with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), but they are limited. If someone else manages to register an identical or similar mark while yours remains unregistered, that can cause problems for your use of your own mark.
Registering your business as a
Continue Reading Why Trademark Your Business Name?