By: Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. | Trademark Attorney
Elon Musk’s companies have filed trademark applications for “Starbase” and “Starship.”
A trademark is defined by the USPTO as “a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods of one party from those of others.” This means that a trademark is a sort of emblem or insignia that one can use to recognize a particular entity, setting it apart from its competitors.
Trademarking is a two-step process. First, one should have an attorney conduct a clearance search to make sure the mark is not already being used. Second, the owner can file the application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Arguably among his most daring plans yet, Musk has decided to build a futuristic city named Starbase, in Texas. The mogul moved his company there in hopes of building more facilities with less restrictions and more room for development. This project would be overseen by his company SpaceX, a sector of Tesla Motors that is focused on creating new technology for human travel to space. Tesla seeks to use its Starbase as a sort of “space port” from where the average person could take a flight to the edge of space. The “Starbase” trademark application was filed on March 2, 2021.
Likewise, SpaceX filed its trademark application for “Starship” on March 2nd as well. It has been assigned to an examining attorney and is currently “pending.” It represents the new spacecraft being built.
Both applications are still in their infancy stages.
SpaceX’s decision to submit an application for a trademark will prove to be helpful to the company’s cause. This is because a registered trademark has two major benefits. First, a registered trademark can save a business owner money on legal fees in the future. A registered trademark establishes certain presumptions in a lawsuit that would otherwise have to be established by a party to the lawsuit. The more work it takes to establish a presumption means the more money you have to pay an attorney to establish that presumption for you. A trademark helps to skip that step and therefore helps to avoid extra money you would have to pay your lawyer at a trial. Moreover, the due diligence search helps reduce the risk of being sued for infringing on another brand.
The second major benefit to having a trademark is that a proprietor and business can more efficiently expand a brand. The USPTO will not grant registration if a mark is too similar to another registered mark. That means that you might not be able to expand your business into a new category or region if you do not register the name/design and someone else does. For example, if you do not register your podcast name and someone else registers the same name for an online magazine, you could be prevented from using that name for your online magazine.
In conclusion, the trademark applications filed by Elon Musk’s companies are currently in the process of review by USPTO examining attorneys. These endeavors are historic steps towards making space travel accessible to the average human.
Research Assistance: Jace Nath
Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. is a trademark and business attorney. She writes articles on trademark law. She also writes weekly articles on West Indian history and politics to raise awareness of the past, and educate the Caribbean diaspora on the need for legal contracts and trademarks.
She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, a minor degree in History that focused on the slavery and indentured servitude eras, a minor degree in Criminology, and a Juris Doctor degree.
MDGR Law, P.A.