Updated: Mar 8, 2020
What is the difference among incorporating, registering a domain name, and registering a trademark?
Often business owners will confuse the fact that they have incorporated or registered their domain name for protecting their brand. While all three are related to protecting one’s business. They are not the same thing and serve different functions within one’s business. So, what is the difference?
Incorporating your business means that you are creating a separate legal entity for your business to reside. Incorporating separates the business’ assets from that of the owner’s personal assets. What does that mean in real life? It means that if someone sues your business, if you have incorporated and maintain separate accounts for your business, they cannot also sue you personally. So, it is a limit to how far someone can go when suing another business. When incorporating, it is important to speak with an attorney or accountant as they can advise you on the best way to incorporate so get the most favorable tax treatment for your business.
I think most of us know what domain registration means, however just in case. Domain registration is when a business registers a unique website name to identify specific IP addresses associated with that name and business. Your domain name is your virtual storefront if you sell products; it is your virtual office is you service clients.
Trademark registration is the process of registering a business’s name or logo or other source identifiers that the business uses consistently and continuously to signal their brand. Registering your trademark in the federal system know as the US Patent and Trademark Office, protects your mark throughout the United States. There are many times that businesses begin operating under a certain name only to find out that there is another company that is using that name as their brand. Usually this is discovered through receiving a cease and desist.
If you own a business, most likely all of these are necessary for you to adequately protect your business. So, don’t mistakenly think that if you have done one, the other two are not essential or important.
Remember the only question that goes unanswered is the one that never gets asked!