It happens all the time. An entrepreneur starts a business, with the perfect name, brand, and domain.

They set up a fan page on Facebook. Then they organize the entity, pouring time and resources into the project. 

And then, the unthinkable happens.

A cease and desist letter arrives in the mailbox, demanding they stop what they're doing. The letter claims that they're infringing on the other company's trademark. What can they do? 

Fortunately, there's a way to make sure your next brand doesn't become mired in an intellectual property dispute. Here's how to make sure the brand's available long before you start building a business:

Do your homework. 

Always conduct a trademark clearance search before you start using a brand name. A well-researched report will identify any potential other brands your proposed brand might conflict with.

Hire a professional.

Hand-in-hand with the search, have a skilled trademark professional interpret the results. Too many times entrepreneurs rush a product to market believing their brand's in the clear when it's not.

File for protection.

Once you've completed the first two steps, you should immediately file to protect your brand with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Even if you're not using the brand, an intent-to-use application will secure your rights the day that it's filed.