You know what they say: timing is everything. You can meet and fall in love with the right person at the wrong time: you're available, but he's in the middle of a messy divorce. Or you get an offer for a promotion. . . right as you have finally decided to leave the job you hate so much. Well, timing matters for trademarks, too!
People sometimes wonder if they should wait until they begin using a trademark, to file an application for registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The answer is NO! The U.S. trademark system awards the right to exclusively use a word or design for particular goods or services dating back to the date when the trademark application was filed. So in other words, if you file an application on January 1st, but don't actually begin using the mark until February, as far as the U.S. PTO is concerned, your rights will date back to January 1st.
As soon as you are decided on a particular brand name or logo to use for your business, product, or service, and want to protect it, you should apply for registration with the USPTO. Too many times, I have run clearance searches for clients that looked great! Then, either because of budgetary or other issues, and despite my reminders, they dragged their feet in getting the application filed. Well, in between the clearance search and actually finally being ready to file, someone else filed for a very similar mark, for very similar goods or services, with the USPTO. This created hurdles that would not have existed had my clients filed immediately after getting the green light on the search results. So I urge you, if you're going to file for a trademark application, do it sooner rather than later!