You’ve worked hard to create your business. What years ago was just an idea has turned into a thriving company, and your name and logo are known across Georgia. Your company’s reputation is impeccable.

But what happens, if one day, you get a call for a customer looking for a different business with the same or a similar name? What if you stumble upon a website for a company with a trademark that looks eerily alike?

Has someone infringed on your company’s trademark?

A trademark protects your brand, such as the company name, logo, other designs, phrases or symbols. A trademark is used to show that the services or items your company offers are linked to your business?

Trademark infringement happens when another business uses a similar name or mark that could leave consumers confused. For example, if there are two Papa Joe’s pizza places within a few miles of each other, there could be confusion.

But a similar or same name doesn’t automatically imply trademark confusion. Your Papa Joe’s pizza is in Georgia, but you find there’s a Papa Joe’s that sells coffee in Ohio. With different niche products separated by a number of states, it isn’t likely that a customer would be confused.

You don’t have to do anything special to create your trademark. Just using the name and logo image in your business establishes the trademark. But what if you want to ward off any future uses of the Papa Joe’s name or image attached to it? You could protect your mark further by filing a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

There are specific rules for filing for federal trademark registration if you decide to go that route, and it would be wise to have an attorney’s help. After all, failing to follow the procedures means your application will be rejected and your business is worth protecting.