How to Register a Federal Trade Name

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There are three main types of legal protection for intellectual property--trademarks, copyrights and patents. Trademarks are names and symbols of commercial products and services. If you sell a physical product or offer a service for sale, you are entitled to apply for a trademark for the name or logo that identifies your goods.

Learn trademark basics. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) suggests that registrants learn the basics of the trademark program prior to registering a trademark. The USPTO website has a host of instructional materials and videos covering the basics of intellectual property protection, trademark law and how the trademark program works.

Search TESS. The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) contains a master list of all registered trademarks in the United States. Search TESS to see if the name you want to trademark is in use by any other business. An existing use of a trademark does not prevent a second company from registering the mark as well, but it complicates matters and you may need a trademark lawyer or specialist to advise you how to proceed.

File at TEAS. You can file a trademark application online at the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). You will have to submit your identification information, a description of the mark you wish to register and, for a non-text trademark such as a symbol or logo, a copy of the design.

Track your application at TARR. The Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval (TARR) system is an online tool for tracking the status of your application. You can check it as often as you like and it will keep you updated as your registration moves through the USPTO process.


About the Author

David Sarokin is a well-known specialist on Internet research. He has been profiled in the "New York Times," the "Washington Post" and in numerous online publications. Based in Washington D.C., he splits his time between several research services, writing content and his work as an environmental specialist with the federal government. David is the author of Missed Information (MIT Press, 2016), a book exploring how better information can lead to a more sustainable future.

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