Actually you can trademark your name name almost globally. Check for Madrid protocol on the uspto website. With the madrid protocol filing your trademark will be protected in over 100 countries. If you do not trademark your name, even it was your idea, and someone else does you are at a loss.
Trademark applications (US) are not that complicated. If you can read and understand the paper work you may not need an attorney. They have a data base on their website that you can do a preliminary search to see if the word or phrase you want to trademark is already in use. This search however is not comprehensive enough. When you do actually submit your application, trademark lawyers will do their own search and determine if there is a similar mark somewhere else. If there isnt one, then they will publish your mark for opposition. To get to this stage takes about 6 months from my own personal experience.
I agree with you. Its a chance that is taken. I do beleive that it is unlikely that someone else will have the same mark/name/word as you for the same category. For instance there may be crown resturants,crown paints,crown furniture etc and all are different trademarks that may be owned by different companies. On the other hand it would be difficult to use a name like Kodak for any type of business, even one not related to pictures and films because the name is unique, as is reebok. For me it all comes down to how unique what you have is. My other trademark I had in mind came up when I did a search. I still could have used it, but it would have to be in an unrelated category.
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