New Business Intellectual Property (“IP”) Checklist

The following is a checklist designed to help new businesses or existing businesses with new line extensions or brands to identify their intellectual property needs. For additional information, please visit our website at and use our IPSEARCH and IPNEWS tabs for links to numerous IP resources.


___ File for federal and/or state trademark registration for product names, packaging, slogans, and logos.

___ File for service mark registration of company name where possible.

___ Check to see that Affidavits of Use have been filed for any existing registrations.

___ Record existing trademarks with United States Customs to block importation of infringing goods.

___ Use the “®” symbol only with federally registered marks, and use “™” for any unregistered marks or

state trademark registrations.

___ Arrange for a trademark watch service to learn quickly if others attempt to register similar marks.


___ File provisional or utility applications to protect unique product designs, formulations, or technologies,

file as early as possible to avoid filing deadlines that will bar the granting of a patent.

___ File design patent applications to protect ornamental designs of products.

___ Pay maintenance fees on existing patents.

__ Mark products with “Pat. Pending” where applicable, and mark all patented products with applicable

Patent Number.

___ Have all employees and outside designers sign agreements assigning all patent rights for any

inventions to the company.

Trade Name

___ File Fictitious Business Name Statement.

___ Check renewal date for existing Fictitious Business Name Statement.

Trade Secrets

___ Develop written trade secret policy to maintain secrecy, have employees read and sign.

___ Locate and physically secure trade secret information and matters.

___ Have employees and vendors sign non-disclosure agreements.

___ Establish hiring and exit interview protocols to address proper handling of any trade secrets.


___ File for copyright registration for any website, written works, graphics, design, or any other work that

might need protection from direct copying.

___ Use the “©” symbol, author’s name, and date of the first publication of the work on all original

materials, including catalogs, advertisements, websites, instruction manuals, unique product designs,

graphics, etc.

___ Have all employees and outside designers agree in writing that that all such works are “works for

hire,” and assign their rights to any original works to the company.

Domain Names

___ Register all company names and popular product names.

___ If feasible, register all variants and common mis-spellings of main domains.

___ Check renewal dates for existing registrations, and sign up for auto-renewal.

Avoiding Infringement

___ Conduct Internet searches to find possible competitors and competing products/services to

determine if there are any potential infringement issues. We provide links to many of the relevant

searchable databases

___ Commission independent patent searches for new and existing products and services sold.

___ Commission independent trademark searches for all trade names and product names.

___ Online Service Providers should register an agent with the Copyright Office to receive immunity for

online copyright infringement by others.

___ Check your Comprehensive General Liability insurance policies to see if they cover infringement,

consider obtaining an intellectual property insurance policy.