The answer is: as soon as possible. Trademarks can take 1-2 years before you go through the entire process. You can apply for a trademark yourself on the USTPO site. Might help to have a lawyer or paralegal help you if you are inexperienced. A simple filing costs a few hundred in fees depending on the nature of the filing. (not legal advice).
Here's the simple rule: you want to be the first person on the planet to realize that there is value to your brand, at which point you should trademark it.
A trademark is like a gun: much better to have one and never need it than to need it and not have it.
To determine if you should trademark your brand, you should visualize that you have built a successful business around your brand. Everything is just the way you hoped it would be. And then ask yourself 3 questions:
1. Would it be worth fighting in court if you were to receive a demand letter from a lawyer representing someone else and claiming that THEY own your brand, and that you should immediately rebrand?
2. Would it be worth fighting in court if you were to see your competitor use YOUR brand to advertise THEIR stuff?
3. Would there be any value to your brand if you were to sell, license or franchise out your business?
If your answer to ANY of these 3 questions is YES, trademark your brands ASAP. It will be the cheapest brand insurance you have ever had.
Hi! I'm Humberto Valle, serial entrepreneur/international coach and MBA.
The order itself doesn't matter. Why you want to do first is test the brand value with your market. See how well they engage with:
1. Lifestyle proposition
2. Design & Color
3. Copy (wording if you have words or phrase in your logo and branding)
Propose that value to your market along with your product, how well does that engage? Often times the logos suck just on design or copy and often too they just promote the wrong sense of value nothing in relation to the product or mission of the company.
A logo or brand itself can be associated with literally anything you want- once you spend a ton of money and resources in marketing this brand alongside a product. The Nike logo could of been for a dishwasher but due to ton of marketing the logo grew in value as it piggy backed the success of the shoe wear. Now the logo in itself it worth millions if not billions. The key is to realize that a logo doesn't make a brand, the lifestyle and community it brings together does. If you're bootstrapping it, hold on to this as it can be pricey and distract you from what matters at the beginning.
I've founded a few startups over the years, and as a glutton for punishment I'm doing it again now. I've not trademarked anything for any of them though, and here's why.
As you doubtless already know, startups are really hard. If you're just going into beta you will have more than enough work on your hands just managing your test, and when you do get free time you should be spending that on new tech and features for your site.
All this assumes that you're a small bootstrapping team of hackers of course. If you have enough time and money, it might be an avenue worth considering, but even then over 90% of startups fail, so you'll be trademarking something that might not even exist in 12 months.
At the end of the day your logo and name really don't matter as much as your product, which really doesn't matter as much as your passion. Focus on quality and traction and you'll build a successful business.
I'd be happy to schedule a call and talk more through it - just let me know.
The answer will depend on whether you have actually started using the logo to sell goods and services or if you'd like to make your claim on the mark and begin using it in the near future. The process itself can take anywhere from 4-24 months, depending on the strength of the mark and whether there are any objections filed.
The order doesn't matter.
Before you trademark the name, which is moderately expensive, let's take a look at the brand name / domain and ensure that it's really the identity / web address you'd ideally be married to for the next 5+ years.
Quite possibly the name you're working with is perfect for you. But it's worth scheduling a checkup with an expert while your site is in beta. I can give you a green light or point out issues if there are any.
Even if the brand name is ideal, your domain might not be the best implementation of that brand name. And even when the domain and brand name match closely, there can be other domain-related risks from which a trademark won't necessarily protect you.
I don't want to scare you unduly about the name. Just take that "car" to a "mechanic" before you go on a gigantic "road trip" with your startup site, including advertising costs, trademark, etc. Have it looked at.
I'd like to offer a different perspective from someone who's started a company, launched it, trademarked and lived to regret it!
1. Consider what happens if you have to rebrand for some reason? You spend all that money trademarking and then you have to spend the money all over again because something happens along the way and your trademark has no value anymore. In my case, we discovered that we had a much bigger audience for our products than we originally modeled and the name of our company and product (and trademark protection) was for a name that men wouldn't ever buy (original products were designed exclusively for women and then the men came calling). We had to rebrand out entire company which cost thousands and then go through all the expense of trademarking again.
2. For most startups, money is scarce and you are going to need every dollar you can find to be able to get your company up and running and pay for your operating expenses. Spending money at this stage on protecting something that currently has little to no value is a waste of money in my opinion because if you don't have enough money to operate and grow your business, your trademark will have no value.
3. Most important, in my opinion, think about how much it's going to cost you to defend that trademark in the event there is an infringement. Do you want to spend your money defending your trademark OR on growing your business.
4. It's easy for people who don't have any "skin in the game" to advise about what to do in this situation and I mean no disrespect by that, but it's YOU that has to write the check for everything your business does and you're on the hook if you fail because you run out of money so you have to make the tough decisions about what you're going to spend your money on because you can't do everything at this stage.
5. Most of the comments pertain to situations where you have value in the company and the brand and trademark and you have growth in the company that makes it worth it to have a trademark because it's something that can be licensed but keep in mind, the only way you get to licensing your trademark is if you have a lot of name recognition that can be leveraged by a bigger company that would benefit from licensing your trademark. So, again, you need to keep your money to grow your business to a point where you have wider name recognition and most important, a lot of revenue. Of course, there is a risk of someone coming along and trademarking your name, but at this early stage, it's highly unlikely because you aren't showing any financial value in the market. Remember, you can ways do it at a later date when it's justified.
6. This is all just my opinion.