All business owners know that the brand name you have created, the logo you designed, and any slogan you came up with build the identity of the business. If you want to protect this identity, you need to register for a trademark.
A trademark application is a lengthy process and requires you to be thorough if you don’t want any hiccups down the line. So, to help you out here is an easy guide to properly apply for a trademark.
Is A Trademark What You’re Looking For?
Any brand name, logo, or tagline you use to represent your business can be registered for a trademark. Copyright is for an original piece of literary or artistic work. A patent will protect a new invention of any kind. For instance, if you have invented a new kind of mobile phone, you will patent it to protect the invention.
If you have created the brand name JMS, with the slogan ‘the new smartphone’, and designed a great logo, all of these will be your trademark, filed at USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office). If you run a TV commercial with a great jingle, you can also file this type of work for copyright.
The confusion most people have with trademarks is the web address. The domain name of your business website will not be registered through USPTO. It must be registered with a domain name registrar instead.
Select A Mark
Once you have decided to file a trademark for your business brand, you then select a mark. There are three types of marks to choose from:
Standard Character: This format is used for letters, words, or numbers that do not have a specific format or font. This helps you to alter and design it in different ways.
Special Character: This format is for design elements or worlds in special staples. For example, Mcdonald’s logo and typography for its name.
Sound: The lion’s roar MGM’s logo is a good example of a sound trademark. You can also create your own sound.
Specimen and Drawing
When you file for your trademark, the application will require you to provide a drawing and a specimen of the mark you have created. If your mark is in standard character format, you will type in the letters or numbers. If your marks are in special character format, you will need to attach the picture in a .jpg file.
Specimen of your mark means the connection between the mark you have created and your product or service. For example, JMS on the back of the mobile phone you have created. If your business involves providing a service, you can attach any advertising sample like a brochure.
Search and Clear
You need to ensure that there are no conflicting marks on the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). However, you can’t solely depend on this because the list provided there is not quite comprehensive.
Although you are not required to hire an attorney in order to file a US trademark and register, California trademark attorneys conduct a comprehensive search by including all the federal, state, and common law unregistered marks. Private attorneys can help you with the search, correct filing, and monitoring of your file. They also fight any opposition you might face during the whole process.
Identify Goods or Services
You need to identify all the products or services that may be connected to your mark. You need to be very careful with this part. You cannot make changes once the trademark has been registered.
Explain the services, or describe all the products in the space provided in the application.
File Your Application
Your attorney can help you fill in the basis of trademark filing. You may be filing for products or services you currently offer, you may intend to use them after a specific time, or you may be applying for foreign applications.
Finally, you will pay the filing fee, which is around $250-$750, and submit the application!
Office Actions or Refusals
Once you’ve filed your application, your file will be examined by a USPTO attorney. It usually takes around three months. If there are any issues with your application, they will notify you and help you understand any office action that has been issued on it.
You need to respond promptly if you want your application to move forward. You should always remember that the USPTO examiner is an employee of the USPTO, and they will not provide you with any legal assistance. This is where your private attorneys can help you. If there are any issues, they can be resolved and the application can move forward.
Note that there may be cases where other brands oppose you and claim that your mark is similar to theirs. This will slow down the registration process, however, your application will not be dismissed.
Your attorney can fight the opposition and ensure you get the mark you want. Once your application has been approved, your mark will be an official trademark. It will be published in The Trademark Official Gazette, where USPTO publishes the new marks weekly.
Statement Of Use
You need to provide a Statement Of Use (SOU) eight months after your mark has been published. Your statement of use will be reviewed and the USPTO will provide a notice of allowance. Whether your SOU is accepted or not, the filing fees are nonrefundable.
The examining attorney from USPTO will notify you and if there are any issues, the same process will apply. You proceed by resolving the issues and fighting any opposition, and your trademark will finally be registered.
Maintain Your Registration
You need to keep providing the maintenance documents required by the USPTO. If you fail to provide these documents within a specific time, your registration will expire. If that happens, you have to restart the application from the beginning. So, keep an eye on the registration status of your mark.
When running your business, you consider all the factors that will help you launch and promote your brand effectively. One of these factors is filing for a trademark for your brand. Once you have registered your trademark, don’t forget to monitor the registration status. Keep a lookout for any infringement on your mark and take legal action if this occurs.