A question about trade mark and DBA

Discussion in 'Growing and Managing a Business' started by intentwin, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. intentwin

    intentwin
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    Hi, I am new here and I am looking for answers to a few questions I have.

    A) First let me tell you the situation. I am planning of creating a clothing line, so I would assume I would have to trademark the name so no one else can use it. Would that be the first step?
    As I am doing my search for a trademark, I notice that some of my personal information would be public. Is it possible to use a PO box for my mailing address?

    B) Would I secondly register the name as a DBA?

    I will start off selling the clothing line online and as business picks up obtain a physical address later on.
    Because I will start off by selling online do I need to register a DBA?

    I am a bit confused and I was wondering if someone could point out the steps I should take in my situation.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post and thank you in advance for your advice.
     
  2. kathleen f.

    kathleen f.
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    I don't recommend that. I also wouldn't suggest getting a trademark right off the bat.

    In my professional opinion, you source fabric first -too many things change and all your IP expenditures will have been a waste. Let the collection coalesce through sampling before making a final decision. Buyers may not like the name and you may decide on something else that your name won't match. I've helped launch thousands of clothing lines, it happens. A lot. Case in point, are you doing what you thought you would be when you were 12?

    Your question is very close to one I recently got; someone asked me what it would cost me to launch a clothing line -but that's not what they really wanted to know. They wanted to know what it would cost them, not me. Still, I thought the question educational so I did a run down of what it would cost me versus what it costs the average person based on their spending priorities. The difference in costs was shocking, on the order of less than $4,000 for me but over $25,000 for someone else. The reason is, people spend in ways I never would.

    I can't leave a link, the system won't permit it. You could try searching the web for a post called "How much cash do you need to start a small clothing line". It's on fashion-incubator if that helps.
     
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  3. intentwin

    intentwin
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    Thank you for the reply, I looked over the information and it looks real informative, thank you.
     
  4. JPStonestreet

    JPStonestreet
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    According to the US Patent and Trademark office, you don't need to register a trademark to establish rights of ownership: "You can establish rights in a mark based on legitimate use of the mark."

    Also quoted from their site: "Any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the "TM" (trademark) or "SM" (service mark) designation to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO. However, you may use the federal registration symbol "®" only after the USPTO actually registers a mark, and not while an application is pending."

    After following Kathleen's advice and getting the business in forward motion, you'll want to form some sort of legal entity such as an LLC or Inc. to protect your personal assets in case you get sued by a supplier or customer. At that point, you can file a DBA (doing business as) under your main company name, assuming they're different. If your product line is the same name as your company name, you don't need a DBA.
     
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  5. intentwin

    intentwin
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    I really appreciate your input JPStonestreet, thank you very much.
     
  6. kathleen f.

    kathleen f.
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    This reminds me of something else. Your company name and product line should be different because it permits much greater flexibility. Consider Kleenex; the company name is Kimberely-Clark -they also own Scott, Viva, Pampers et al -a complete range of paper products. You don't know what you'll be doing in the future and you may want to sell off one or some of your brands. If your company name and product name are the same, you've boxed yourself into a corner, creating brand confusion which can negatively impact the sale and re-emergence of your company as it goes on to launch other products.

    Speaking of company names, it should be something innocuous like XZY Enterprises. That impresses people it pays to impress (partners etc); your brand name should resonate with consumers but your company name shouldn't.
     
  7. Business Attorney

    Business Attorney
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    First, a trademark and a DBA are two entirely different things from a legal standpoint, although you may use your trademark in your DBA or actual business name or vice versa. A trademark identifies the source of the goods or services you are selling. The DBA is just a business name. If you are not business

    For example, Kraft Foods has hundreds of brands such as Kraft, Tombstone, Triscuit, Oscar Mayer, etc... Kraft Foods happens to have one of its brands in its name, but it could easily be called something with no brands in the name, like Worldwide Food Company. Just because the company sells Tombstone pizza does not make Tombstone a DBA. It is just a brand.

    As for obtaining a trademark, kathleen is correct that you acquire trademark rights by use. However, those rights are limited in scope. They only cover the geographic area where you actually have used the trademark. Also, you gain no rights until you actually sell the product. If someone else comes along and uses the mark while you are developing your products, they will have prior rights to yours and any amounts you have spent to design and develop your mark will have been wasted.

    Applying for federal trademark registration with an "intent to use" application can give you rights that will date back to the date of your application and will protect you everywhere in the United States, even if you initially start out with limited local distribution. The cost of the application is a few hundred dollars, plus legal expenses if you use an attorney. In many startups, spending those funds upfront may be a hardship but you certainly should consider the risks if you decide to develop a trademark without protecting it in advance.
     

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