Can you protect your business method through ™ registration?

Trademark Law0 comments

Framework. Style. Process. System. Method.

Whatever you call it, it’s taken your blood, sweat, and tears to perfect it, so it’s a no-brainer that you’d want to protect it.

But how exactly do you do that?

**First, a quick disclaimer: this post is legal education and information, not business, financial, or legal advice, and it doesn’t create an attorney-client relationship between us. 

This is also an attorney communication under Rule 7.2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California and Business and Professions Code Sections 6157-6159.2.

Please chat with an attorney in your area to make sure you’re protecting your business.**

What is a business method?

In a nutshell, a business method is an innovative technique that involves multiple steps to complete a process.

But if your method simply acts as a system to get things done, it won’t qualify for federal trademark registration.

When your term is used to identify both the steps to complete a process and the services rendered by means of that process, then it may be registerable as a service mark.

In this case, your method would be considered a source indicator.

A source indicator identifies the goods or services you are selling, and you can’t register your business method as a trademark unless it’s used as a source indicator.

The key difference is that it’s not the actual method being protected by trademark registration but the underlying services.

The benefits of protecting your business method

Here’s the good news:

When your business method is being used as a source indicator, you already have a trademark from the moment you start using it.

So when you say you have a business method you want to protect, you’re really saying you have a trademark you want to register.

And as with any other business asset, protecting your method through federal trademark registration is a savvy move that grants you exclusive rights to the use of your unique framework.

What does a successfully registered business method look like?

If you can’t decide whether your business method is a source indicator or it’s simply a method, check out these examples:

  1. The Bar Method for exercise instruction

This particular method is distinguishable from a standard barre workout since physical therapists developed it to follow a unique set of instructions for ensuring safety and efficacy.

It requires training and certification and can only be used by authorized facilities. 

In other words, this method is a source indicator that identifies the services and doesn’t merely describe a framework or process.

  1. The Myers-Briggs Personality Test

Personality tests are a dime a dozen online, but this method is considered a gold standard in the field of physiological testing and scoring.

Training and certification is required to administer Myers-Briggs tests.

Again, this method is a source indicator to distinguish a particular type of personality test and isn’t simply a method.

When your business method can be protected through federal registration

The bottom line is that a framework, style, process, system, or method is only eligible for federal trademark registration if:

(1) the applicant is performing a service; AND

(2) the designation identifies and indicates the source of the service.

If you can check off both these boxes, it’s absolutely worth applying to protect your business method through ™ registration.

When you’re ready to apply or if you still need help figuring out whether your business method qualifies for trademark registration, book your consultation with Nicole Cheri Oden Law.

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I’m Nicole.

I understand both the legal world and the online business world and can bridge the gap for entrepreneurs that want to ensure all of their ducks are in a nice, neat row. Let’s protect your business so you can build your empire.

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