The Role of Trademarks and Intellectual Property in LLC Names


Trademarks provide legal protection for words, symbols, designs, and slogans associated with a business. This includes the company name.

LLCs offer personal asset protection and shield business owners from lawsuits and bankruptcies. Trademarks distinguish a business’s products and services from others in the market.

Having both an LLC and a trademark is essential for businesses. One without the other leads to incomplete protection and unnecessary risk.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design that identifies and distinguishes the goods or services of one party from those of others. The wording may be stylized (e.g., Head & Shoulders) or in standard character format. The logo itself could be in standard or special form, such as the Nike swoosh, or a combination of both. Unlike copyrights and patents, which pass into the public domain after a set time, trademarks can last indefinitely if they are actively used and periodically renewed.

Businesses must guard against their trademarks becoming generic, such as Kleenex for facial tissues or Xerox for photocopying. However, if a business can demonstrate that it is using its trademark in commerce (including its website) and that its mark is distinctive, it can stop competitors from using the name to sell similar goods or services. In addition, a trademark owner can bring infringement suits against others who use its trademark without authorization. Visit for LLC names.

What is a Service Mark?

A service mark is a brand name or logo that identifies a business’ services and distinguishes them from others. It may consist of a word, symbol, design or combination thereof and is considered a form of intellectual property protection. It prevents competitors from using names and insignia that could potentially confuse consumers. McDonald’s golden arches, for example, are a service mark, but its famous logo is also a trademark that distinguishes the company’s products from those of other businesses.

Like trademarks, service marks are protected under federal law and state laws and can be registered to guarantee their legal validity and address issues such as cybersquatting. Similar to a trademark, they may carry the standard (r) symbol once they are officially registered with the USPTO. For those that are not yet registered, they will display the (sm) symbol. Also like trademarks, companies must guard against their phrases becoming generic – such as Kleenex for facial tissues or Xerox for photocopying – which can render their trademarks vulnerable.

What is a Logo?

A logo is a symbol that represents a business and helps people remember it. It can include symbols, text or a combination of both. The best logos create a strong visual association that can make a company stand out from the competition.

Logo types include emblems (which combine text and a pictorial mark or mascot), logotypes (which are simply a stylized version of the company name) and abstract marks. Some companies also use letter marks, which are abbreviated versions of the company name or monograms. Letter marks work well when a logo must be used in small spaces, such as on social media profile photos or in short descriptions of a company.

A combination mark combines a wordmark or lettermark with a pictorial mark, abstract mark or mascot. This type of logo can be useful if you are not yet ready to abandon your name for a symbolic image alone, and it makes it easier to trademark.

What is a Design?

A design is a plan for creating something. It can also refer to the shape, technology, or appearance of that something. The word “design” comes from the Latin verb designare, which means to create a plan.

Trademarks protect the brand names, logos, and slogans of businesses, while LLCs offer legal protections that shield business owners’ personal assets from lawsuits and bankruptcies. Both trademarks and LLCs are important business tools, but they work differently and offer different protections.

A trademark is federally enforceable and offers national protection. An LLC is established at the state level and only provides protection within a single state. It can take over a year to get a trademark from the USPTO, but an LLC can be established in less than a day. Both provide legal protections, but trademarks are more valuable for protecting brands and intellectual property. They can increase brand value, address cybersquatting, and prevent competitors from using your name or recognizable features of your brand.

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