One thing junk removal business owners think about often is whether they should trademark their business name. The answer to that question depends on your long term plans. Do you plan on expanding? Do you plan on starting a junk removal franchise system? Or do you plan on simply operating in one area or at least within your state?

For those of you looking into franchising your business or expanding it into a multi-state operation, trademarking your name is vital. The initial trademark can be around $600 if filed online and if everything goes smoothly. But if somebody disputes the mark you will have to decide whether to pay more in legal fees to continue the process or abandon filing the mark. When we filed a trademark for Junk Doctors it wound up costing over $2,000, as we had to file to have another mark cancelled because the business was no longer in operation.

Junk Doctors

We’re glad we did though. I mean, just look at that beautiful logo.

Once you have a trademark, that doesn’t prevent other companies from using the trademarked name throughout the state. You then have to defend your mark. If you notice that somebody is infringing on your junk removal company’s trademark you will need to have an attorney send a “Cease and Desist” letter. This will cost you about $200 per occurrence. Then, if the company does not respond to the letter, you have to take legal action against them. This process could easily run into the thousands or TENS of thousands of dollars.

The other thing to consider is that if a company has been using the name you are trying to trademark longer than you have, they have the right to continue using that name in their area. That means you can’t file for a trademark and suddenly demand that a company that has been using the mark abandon it. They have the right to continue using the name in their area. Should you wish to move into their area you would have to attempt to work out a settlement with them.

Now, for those of you choosing a name, I would avoid choosing a name that has been trademarked. If you come across a name that isn’t being used in your area but is being used somewhere else then you need to do some serious thinking about whether you want to use the name. Some things to consider are 1) where in the country is this company? If they are in your state,  I wouldn’t use their name. If they are across the country then, then ask 2) Are they professional? If it’s just a pickup truck, trailer, and a couple of guys you are probably safe, assuming they have been in business a few years. However, if it appears to be a well-run and growing machine you might want to hold off using the mark. Having to undergo a name change is an expensive process in terms of both actual money spent and in terms of re-educating your customers about your new name. Lots of goodwill that you have built over time can be lost with a name change.

Lee and Christian load their second trailer.

Lee and Christian started out as Triangle Removal. Making the switch to Junk Doctors wasn’t easy.

That being said, you should thoroughly understand your future intentions before filing a trademark. Yes, it is relatively inexpensive to file one, but then you have to protect it. To effective defend your mark you will either need to periodically conduct an exhaustive search or hire a trademark company to monitor for infringement on your behalf. You will then need to pay the necessary legal expenses to protect the mark. Unless you plan on growing your brand big time, it is likely not worth your time to file a trademark.

Let’s expand in 2018.