LLC vs. Trademark—What Is the Difference?
Do you have to trademark a business name, or is forming an LLC enough to avoid infringement? In this article, we explain the LLC vs. trademark difference and break down the process of trademark registration . Explore the level of protection they provide and see which one is better for your small business.
What Is a Trademark?
Any unique feature that serves to identify your brand in the marketplace is referred to as a trademark. The most common types of trademark include:
- Words, phrases, and slogans
- Pictures and artwork
- Original characters
- Names (usernames and domain names included)
Trademarks and service marks are similar to copyright since their primary function is to protect intellectual property. In the context of commerce, the marks are meant to signify:
- The source of goods
- The provider of services
What Does LLC Mean?
An LLC or limited liability company is a type of business structure where owners cannot be personally prosecuted in case of litigation. It is similar to a corporation, with fewer administrative responsibilities (e.g., board meetings are optional).
The key characteristics of an LLC include:
- Versatility—Almost any individual or organization can be registered as an LLC. The few exceptions are insurance companies and banks
- Reduced personal liability—If your company falls into debt, you cannot be held personally responsible, even as the sole proprietor. All your assets (private property, personal bank accounts, etc.) are therefore protected by law
- Pass-through taxation—LLC owners don’t have to pay taxes directly. You can file the company profits with personal tax returns
The Difference Between an LLC and a Trademark
What is the difference between an LLC and a trademark? The short answer is—the level of protection they can provide.
In the case of an LLC, your business name is only guarded within state lines after you register. You cannot press charges against brands using the same title if they are based in a different state.
The trademark protection laws ensure local protection from the moment you start using it in commerce, as per common law rights. You can also file for state or federal registration, legitimizing your ownership over the company name further.
Here’s a breakdown of the three types of trademark registration:
- State registration—Much like an LLC, your trademarked name is protected in the state of registration
- Federal registration—You acquire federal protection, which means that you can prosecute any individual or organization that infringes on your trademark within U.S. territory
- International registration—The Madrid Protocol protects trademarks outside the U.S. Currently, 124 countries have signed the international treaty
Another perk of owning a registered trademark is the ability to stop counterfeit goods from entering the U.S. Forward your registration certificate to the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and they will intercept the importation.
Should you register a trademark or LLC first? It’s best to start both procedures simultaneously and prevent competing brands from stealing your idea.
Keep in mind that, unlike LLC, trademark registrations have an expiration date. You will have to maintain your trademark by applying for renewal once every ten years.
How To Register a Trademark With the USPTO
To file a trademark, you must submit an application form to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The table below contains a breakdown of the procedure along with the requirements for registering a trademark:
|Using an original trademark||
|Sorting your goods and services||
|Choosing a filing option||Applicants can choose between two filing options:
You will have to provide accurate and current information about yourself and the trademark, including:
|Paying the USPTO fees||The USPTO charges for each trademark class you list in your application. The two filing options come with different costs:
DoNotPay—The Most Reliable Way To Register a Trademark
Filing out a trademark application form by yourself requires you to be meticulous, which is time-consuming. Many business owners choose to enlist the services of an IP lawyer instead and pay the steep flat fees.
DoNotPay presents a more budget-friendly alternative—our Trademark Registration product. With a subscription to our AI-operated app, you gain access to streamlined services that expedite the trademark registration process.
To generate your application form, complete the following steps:
- Click on the Trademark Registration product
- Answer the on-screen questions regarding your brand and trademark
- Provide evidence of covered costs
Once you e-sign the document, DoNotPay will conduct a USPTO search to ensure the applied-for trademark is available. After that, we will forward the paperwork to the federal agency on your behalf.
Don’t Let the Complex Procedures Stress You Out! Rely on DoNotPay and Run Your Business Like a Pro!
DoNotPay has created a plethora of simple-to-use features that will help you run your business the best way possible. Here are some aspects we can help you take care of:
What Else Does DoNotPay Have in Store for Your Business?
You can use our app to resolve many other business-related issues. DoNotPay can help you deal with fake reviews that are ruining the reputation of your business by analyzing the harmful review and figuring out the best way to go about it.
Do you wish to protect the privacy of your clients and prevent their data from being collected while they are on your website? Use our app to file a self-certification request with the Privacy Shield program.
If you need help automating the filing of 83(b) election forms, DoNotPay has the right solution for you and your employees or shareholders! With our app, you will be able to finish the entire process with a few clicks.
Another perk of using our app is that we can help you fax and mail any documents or letters without having to leave your home or office.
DoNotPay will help you handle all your business tasks in the blink of an eye!