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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Basically what do I have to do to make an official, legally enforced brand name for my t-shirt designs? Do I have to file for a Trademark? Do I have to create a corporation, such as an LLC? Is there something else I need to do? Does my brand name have to be unique? I recall that you can use the same Trademarked name as someone else as long as you're in a totally different business. I was never focused on brands and branding, but I think it's about time that I actually established a real brand & identity that I can promote. I've sold a lot of t-shirts just by focusing on making designs that people want to buy. A brand name would help me go to the next level.
 

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If you want anything legally enforced, hire a lawyer.

That said, what a lawyer, especially one who does Trademark work, is likely to tell you if you want to establish a brand name is that not only does your brand name need to be unique (you can't look or sound like an existing brand), but it also can't merely describe your business. For example, Johnny Cupcakes can trademark his brand because he's not selling cupcakes. If he were, the US Patent and Trademark Office would deny his trademark request because his name merely describes his business. So to get a registered trademark, you can use a completely made up word or words, or you can use a word or words that have nothing to do with your business. A fruit company can't trademark the word "apple", but a computer company can.

There's a lot more to it than that, but again, get a lawyer. One of the services he will do is search all the existing trademarks to make sure your trademark application will go through the process unscathed. It's really not a process you want to try without a lawyer (although legally you can do it without a lawyer but you risk money on something that's easy to do wrong).
 

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up here in the great white north:
simply registering your company with the gov't (municipal, state, or federal),
pretty much ensures that is your name (and cannot be registered by anyone else in the country in that similar field)

is it worldwide?
no, but even so,
if it is unique enough you could make a pretty decent case as first out of the blocks in international court

you should be able to do a free search of business names in most countries of the world
 

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If you have a name idea already, start with USPTO.gov and do a search (live and dead)

A really good way to get some cost-conservative, legal assistance....head to your local universities law school! There are plenty of young advantageous, soon to be lawyers eager to assist with consulting even possible leg work. I would strive to connect by using the local peg board. If not available, hang out and stop a few people walking by.....they will point you in the right direction or they may be one to actually assist you. All in all, think outside the box.

Keep in mind, that some lawyers moonlight as consultants for a fraction of their daytime costs.

Hope this helps,

Jae
 

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I can't help with the trademarking. But I can tell you that when I incorporated my (trucking) business here in Louisiana, I went directly to the Secretary of State's website instead of hiring a lawyer. So instead of paying the $HUNDREDS to a lawyer, I ended up paying $60 to the state. It only took them a couple of days to reply to my request and I was up and running. Driving.

And it wasn't hard! It's all "fill in the blank." So you just have to be thorough and careful about filling in the blanks. 10 minutes.
 

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A trademark, regardless of whether it is federally registered or not, can be owned by any legal entity, including a person. So there is no requirement of setting up a new legal entity to own a trademark. If you are already selling t-shirts, which it sounds like you are, then you probably already have the appropriate legal entity setup for the type of business you do. A trademark is simply a mark you use to engage in trade. Protecting your trademark is where the lawyers come in.
 
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