Slogans and phrases cannot be copyrighted in the same way that movies, music and computer software are copyrighted for protection. It is possible, however, to register a slogan or catchphrase as a trademark. Whereas copyright is intended to protect an original creation, trademarks are designed to protect a logo or phrase. Trademarks are used to single out a product from among competitors. Trademarks are handled by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, as opposed to the U.S. Copyright Office.
Learn about the system. Log onto the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website, which is linked in the Resources section, and follow its instructions. Access the Trademark Information Network (TIN) to find about how long the process will take. Instructional videos on how to file the application are also available; watching them in full is recommended.
Search the trademark records for a slogan or catchphrase that conflicts with yours. You can do this online with the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). You also can visit a trademark and patent library to search the records.
In the event that a slogan or catchphrase already registered conflicts with yours, check its status using the Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval database. If the trademark has not been renewed by the person who registered it, then you can proceed.
Write a description of the product or service that your catchphrase or slogan represents or will represent. Be specific; vague responses can jeopardize your application. Without a clear description of what your catchphrase or slogan represents, the application cannot go forward.
Complete the trademark application. This can be done online through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) or on paper through a patent office. Filing through TEAS is recommended because its applications are completed faster than paper-based applications. TIN provides step-by-step videos on how to complete the application form.
Send the application. An application fee needs to be paid to the Patent and Trademark Office. In 2010, the lowest fee was $275 for applications filed under the TEAS Plus system, but the fee could be $325 for a regular TEAS application or $375 for filling out a paper application.
The cost is per class of product. If you wish to file a trademark for use on two products, therefore, and you file a TEAS Plus application, the cost would be $550 (in 2010).
- The application process can take a long time. The standard time given by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is four months. If legal issues arise from the application, however, then the process may take longer.
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