“But it’s my legal name.” I have heard this many many times. The answer? It doesn’t matter. If you want to be protected, you have to Trademark the name of your business – especially if it’s your legal name and you want to monetize it.
In this episode we will cover:
- Branding and your legal name
- Monetizing your legal name
- How do people identify your business?
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Episode 219: Do You Need a Trademark For Your Legal Name Transcript
Andrea: [00:00:03] Welcome to the Legalpreneur Podcast. I’m your host, Andrea Sager, Founder and CEO of Legalpreneur, Inc. As a serial entrepreneur and someone that works exclusively with small business owners legally protecting their business, I’m dedicated to covering common legal issues faced by business owners, providing you with the business knowledge you need to catapult your businesses growth and showing you just how some of the world’s most elite entrepreneurs have handled these legal and business issues themselves in true attorney fashion. The information in this episode is not legal advice. This is for informational purposes only, and you should always consult with your attorney before implementing any of the information in the show. Hello there. Welcome back.
Andrea: [00:00:50] As a reminder about dream bigger, we do now have payment plans available so you can choose a two payment option or just pay in full. We know that times are tough right now and we want as many people to be present as possible. So if you want to be in the room, we are helping you make that happen. Today’s episode we are getting into legal names and also known as a personal brand. This has been coming up a lot and so I want to make sure it is covered. I don’t think we’ve actually covered this on the podcast, so let’s chat legal names. I started my law firm, Andrea Sager law doing pretty much nothing but trademarks. That was 90% of the business for a very long time. And a lot of people would tell me, hey, you know, I just do business with my legal name, so I don’t need a trademark. And then I would have to break the news to them and say, look, just because it’s your legal name, it does not mean you are legal to conduct business with that name. So if you have a personal brand or you’re somehow branding yourself your business as your legal name, that is all the more reason to file a federal trademark application and get protection on your legal name. What if you’re infringing on somebody’s you actually can’t monetize your name. A lot of people get thrown off like, what are you talking about? It’s my legal name.
Andrea: [00:02:14] Yeah, but you are not necessarily able to monetize it. Think about Calvin Klein, Kate Spade, Rebecca Minkoff. It’s all of their legal names. So if somebody else with a very similar name or the same name wanted to start something in the fashion industry, not even just handbags or whatever their brand is, they can’t do that because that is trademark infringement. So it doesn’t matter if it is your legal name or some variation thereof. You still need to protect your name, your legal name with the trademark. So if you are doing business as another name, it’s not your legal name, or maybe it’s just your first name or your license, whatever it is, if you’re doing business as something else. You can’t actually protect your legal name then, so you have to be branding yourself. As your name. In order to be able to file a trademark, you have to have some type of commercialization to your legal name in order to protect it. So, for example, let’s say you have ABC Corporation or ABC LLC, and you’re not doing anything with your name. You can’t file a trademark on your legal name because you’re not branding it as your name. In order to be eligible for federal trademark protection, you have to be branding yourself. It has to be part of the brand somehow. So as a reminder, trademarks cover the identity of your brand.
Andrea: [00:03:45] So think your brand name, your logo, a slogan, podcast, name a product, name a service name, things that are identifying the business. And then on the other hand, we have copyrights, which are your content, your creative work. So for the podcast, the podcast name is a trademark podcast episode that’s protected with a copyright. So if you have ABC Corp. or ABC LLC and your name, you’re just in the background, you’re not branded, your name is not branded as anything. You’re actually not eligible for trademark protection. So it does have to be part of the brand somehow. So what do you do if somebody does have a similar name or the same name and you’re doing the same thing in business? I’ve seen this happen for some reason. It’s very common with photographers. I’ve had this happen multiple times with a photographer, so I’ve had to tell people, Hey, you can actually brand yourself as your legal name, you can have your name on your website, but it cannot actually be the business name. You have to have another name to the business. Where this can get tricky is with with law firms. So we a lot of states have rules regarding names of a law firm if you so Andrea say your law is my law firm name some states do require that your law firm has your name. It has some resemblance to your name.
Andrea: [00:05:23] So it can’t just be like ABC Legal. It has to have your last name or your full name in it. So some states do have that requirement. If there’s somebody out there with a similar name, then you’re going to have to work something out amongst the two of you. There’s actually a famous lawsuit. I think it’s in South Carolina or North Carolina. The it’s a dad and a son. I think they worked together and then they got into it. And so they both have their own firm. But I think the dad has a trademark on the name and now the son is fighting him for it. Or there’s something going on because the son wants to use his legal name and it’s like, Hey, you actually can’t, so trust me, these things happen. So if you are doing business with your legal name 100%, you need a trademark for your name. But on the other hand, if you are thinking about filing a trademark on your legal name, but you’re not actually branding yourself or your business in that way. You can’t get a federal trademark. So just remember, how do people identify your business? That’s how you can figure out if you need a trademark on your name. Influencers. A lot of influencers need to protect their legal name or their Instagram handle or their TikTok handle, whatever it is. However, they’re being identified by the public.
Andrea: [00:06:47] That’s what you have to protect with the trademark. So don’t think you can just forget about trademarks if you’re doing business with your legal name. It’s all the more reason to protect your name with the trademark. I hope this is helpful. If you need help filing a trademark, we have our trademark course. It’s open. Ready to go. Every once in a while we do launches on it, but it’s just. It’s evergreen. It’s up there. Just go to the trademark course. If you want somebody to do it for you. We do so have trademark packages available at Andrea Sager. That is specifically for just trademarks. Let me know if you have questions. Shout me out on Instagram, you can DM or shoot me an email. Andrea at Andrea Sager. And don’t forget about Dream Bigger. We now have the payment plan to pay. Pay one payment now and the other half in 30 days. I want as many people there as possible, so I don’t want money to be an issue. And if you need somebody, if you’re looking, you want to book the hotel and you want to team up with somebody, let me know, because I may have somebody that would be willing to share a room with you. So let me know. I want to help you cut costs where possible. And so we’re doing as much as we can to help. All right. See Friday.
Andrea: [00:08:06] Actually, we’ll see you Wednesday and then see Friday.
Andrea: [00:08:11] Here at Legalpreneur. We’re committed to providing a supportive legal community for all business owners. I know how scary the legal stuff can be. If you found this information helpful. I would be so grateful if you could share it with the fellow business owner. And quite frankly, it doesn’t cost anything to rate, review or subscribe to the show. Your support helps me reach more listeners, which allows me to support more business owners in their entrepreneurial journey. Have any questions or comments about the show? Feel free to drop me a line on Instagram, I promise. I read all of the messages and comments and if you want to be a guest on the show or know someone that would make a great guest, simply fill out our application form and a team member will reach out if we think it’s a good fit. I’ll see you in the next episode.