That old cliché about time being money has a magical way of creeping into so many of these types of posts, doesn’t it? Even if you don’t judge every minute of your life by the amount of money you could be making, you still probably want to know how long it will take to file for some of the legal material that your business requires.
It’s been our experience that, for the most part, timeliness is second only to price for many of our customers. And interestingly enough, customers tend to be concerned mostly with how long it takes to file for one of three things: DBA ‘Doing Business As’ names, copyrights, and trademarks.
1. DBA Names: 1-4 Weeks
A ‘Doing Business As’ name is required for the most basic parts of running a business. If you want to cash checks made out to your company, or even open a bank account using its name, you have to have a DBA on file with the state. Luckily the sheer demand for these names combined with needing to obtain one quickly means that most state governments have the process down pat. You file for a name, they run it through their database, and as long as it isn’t too close to anyone else’s they can set you up with a DBA in about a week or two. But things happen, and something like a sudden flood of applications or a strain of the flu making its way around a state’s office could mean you’ll be waiting up to a month for your DBA name. You should always file for a DBA as soon as possible, just so you’re able to start building your business without having to wait for the state.
2. Copyrights: Around 3 Months
The United States Copyright Office is kind enough to publish the estimated times for people looking to file a copyright, and at the moment any application that is e-filed will take around three months. If you prefer to go old school in filing for a copyright with paper, you’ll have to wait ten months. Most business owners file for a copyright whenever they create something tangible that they want to protect and copy; a musical jingle or a photograph are two typical examples. Registering with the US copyright office guarantees a greater level of legal protection and will make it easier to go after any potential infringers. It is always a good idea to protect anything you plan to use to help build trust in your brand and business—the last thing you want is someone profiting off of all of your hard work.
3. Trademarks: Anywhere from under a year to several years
Of the three, trademarks are going to take the longest to approve. Business owners typically trademark logos, names, and designs with the intent of protecting the brand those things represent. But it does take some time for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to go through the enormous volume of applications they receive, and to check all of the other trademarked properties to ensure there is no infringement. There are also a few other factors that can affect total time. Are you going to use the trademark in commerce? Have you started using it at all? Have you received trademark protection in a foreign country? The USPTO is kind enough to release timelines based on the particular circumstances of the trademark, and can help you get a good idea of how long you’ll have to wait. In our experience the earliest you’ll hear back about approval or rejection is around nine months, but that kind of turnaround is rare.
Take into consideration how long everything is going to take, and be prepared to wait on your documents. This does involve working with a government agency, after all, and so they’ll take as much time as they feel they need. Just remember that the earlier you file, the earlier you’ll get approved and able to start doing business using your company’s name, logo, and jingle.