Whether you are the CEO of a large corporation or a small business owner, you may have a sign, logo, name or symbol that represents your company. A mark is a critical part of a company, as it helps consumers identify your business, brand, product and service. Once you build your business around that mark, it is important to keep it safe from theft or infringement.

There are a number of ways you can protect your mark and your company. Simply by using your mark in public and frequently, you establish common law trademark protection. You can ensure you are not using another companies mark or that no one is using your mark by policing the trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Search System.

When you have ensured that your mark is entirely unique, you can choose whether to keep common law protection or register for a federal trademark. A registered trademark has certain protections that are not otherwise available through common law. For example, if you find someone is using your mark or a similar mark and it is confusing consumers into purchasing another product thinking it is your product, you can file a trademark infringement claim against the other party.

As you register your trademark, it is important to be as detailed as possible on the application. Make sure to list all types of goods and services covered by your mark in order to protect it as best as possible. After you application is approved, you are able to use the registered trademark symbol after your sign, symbol or brand. However, you must continue to monitor your trademark to ensure no one else is misusing it.