Your trademark name distinguishes the products you offer in the marketplace from your competitors' products. You can establish trademark rights in your brand name in three different ways -- through common law usage, state registration and federal registration. Under common law, you automatically acquire basic trademark rights once you use your unique brand name in association with your goods offered in commercial trade. For state registration in Michigan, you register your trademark through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The registration confirms your claim of ownership over the trademark name within the state. Optional federal trademark registration, through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, offers exclusive rights to use the trademark throughout the United States.
Choose a unique brand name that can be distinguished from any other business name without any possibility of confusion. Michigan state law prohibits the use of a name associated with any person, unless you obtain written permission from the individual. Michigan state law also prohibits the use of a surname as a trademark, consistent with federal trademark law.
Read More: How to Trademark an Abandoned Trademark
Use your trademark name on your goods and offer them in commercial trade in Michigan. Michigan requires you to use the trademark in commerce before you apply for state trademark registration.
Complete the Michigan State Application for Registration of Trademark/Service Mark. Designate that the purpose of this application is to register a Trademark, as opposed to a Service Mark. Write your trademark name under the "Words Only" section, not the "Design Only" or "Words and Design" sections.
Complete the section on Trademarks, and skip the section on Service Marks. List the type of goods associated with the trademark and the manner in which the trademark is used. For example, state whether you use your trademark name on tags, labels or store signs.
Select the appropriate classification code for the type of goods associated with your trademark from the Trademark Uniform Classification of Goods list. The state registration application only accepts one classification code per trademark application.
Provide the date and place that you first used the trademark name on your commercial goods in Michigan. If you previously used the trademark name outside of Michigan, also provide that information. The date must be prior to the date of your trademark registration application.
Complete the applicant information section for one individual or a business entity. Include a business address. Also, provide the state of incorporation, if the business applicant is a corporation.
Submit two samples of the trademark name as currently used in commercial trade in Michigan. Limit the sample size to 8-1/2-by-11 inches or smaller so that it can be scanned into the Corporate Division trademark database.
Sign the application as an individual applicant, a partner in a partnership or an authorized agent of a corporation or limited liability company. Provide the name and business telephone number of the person who prepared the registration application.
Present your document to a notary public, who will notarize your document. Submit your notarized application, with your trademark samples and the applicable registration fee, to the State of Michigan, by mail or in person. The State of Michigan issues a Certificate of Registration as evidence of your registration and the right to use the trademark on your goods throughout the state.
Be aware that a trademark owner of a similar name can challenge your use of your brand name as infringing on his ownership rights. If challenged, you must establish that you used the name first.
Do not assume your state registration provides universal trademark protection. Apply for both state and federal registration, since state registration provides local notice of your claim of ownership and federal trademark registration establishes a legal presumption of ownership throughout the United States.
- Michigan.gov: Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs: Trademark, Service Marks and Insignia
- Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs: Application for Registration of Trademark/Service Mark
- Michigan Legislative Website: Trademarks and Service Marks (excerpt) Act 242 of 1969: 429.32 Registration of Certain Marks Prohibited.
- Michigan Legislative Website: Trademarks and Service Marks (excerpt) Act 242 of 1969: 429.33 Application for Registration of Mark; Form; Contents; Signature, Verification, and Oath; Specimens; Fee; Service of Process.
- Michigan Legislative: Trademarks and Service Marks (excerpt) Act 242 of 1969: 429.34 Certificate of Registration; Issuance; Contents; Refusal to Register Mark; Notice; Certificate as evidence.
- Michigan Business One Stop: Trademarks
- Michigan.gov: Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs: Trademark Service Mark Application
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Possible Grounds for Refusal of a Mark
Based in Los Angeles, Victoria McGrath has been writing law-related articles since 2004. She specializes in intellectual property, copyright and trademark law. She earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona, College of Law. McGrath pursued both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts at University of California, Los Angeles, in film and television production. Her work has been published in the Daily Bruin and La Gente Newsmagazine.