A trademark offers protection for your business name and logo. Trademark is often confused with copyright, which is another form of protection by the U.S. law for original works of authorship presented in a tangible form. A copyright protects literary and musical works such as novels and poetry as well as artistic and dramatic works such as movies and songs. Original works of architecture and computer software are also eligible for copyright protection. A trademark offers protection for a word, phrase, design or symbol as well as for a combination of words, phrases, designs or symbols. Trademark registration of your business name and logo is important to be distinguished from competitors and prevent illegal use of your business name and logo. The Trademark Office of the United States Patent and Trademark Office handles trademark registration.
Format your business name and logo according to the USPTO design requirements. You need to depict your business name and logo clearly, as the USPTO would file it in its search records and print it on the Official Gazette and on the registration certificate. Depict your business and logo in USPTO-accepted formats: standard character format, stylized, or design format. Use standard character format to depict words, numbers or letters, or a combination thereof. There should however be no claims on elements of font, size or color as well as style or design. The advantage with this format is that you can present your business name and logo in any manner. Use the stylized or design format if you wish to protect a design element, and/or letters and/or words, presented in a specific style. Note that you cannot combine both the standard character and design format in a single representation or mark.
Describe the goods or services for which you would use the mark. The description should be clear. Be guided by USPTO's Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual for listing your goods or services (see Resources).
Search the USPTO's Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) online for free to determine whether there are any marks equal or similar to yours already registered (see Resources). You would need a design code if you want to search a design. Use USPTO's Design Search Code Manual to search for your code (see Resources). You can also search free at: Public Search Facility -- Madison East, First Floor; 600 Dulany St.; Alexandria, VA 22313.
File your trademark application online using USPTO's TEAS - the Trademark Electronic Application System (see Resources). Fill out the application form, pay registration fees and submit the form directly to the USPTO online. For latest fee details, visit USPTO's Fee Schedule (see Resources). Note that the amount of fees would also depend on your goods and services classification. Alternatively, you can also file a paper application and send it by regular mail to: Commissioner for Trademarks; P.O. Box 1451; Alexandria, VA 22313-1451. Note that application submission through fax is not accepted.
Wait for your application serial number. In case of online application, you will receive this number immediately, whereas it would take two to three weeks in case of regular mail submission. You would have to use the serial number for all your future correspondences with the USPTO.
Expect a response to your application within four months from the filing date. However, it may take a year or more for the total application procedure to be completed. You can check the status of your application through the Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval database (see Resources). Monitor the progress of your application every three to four months.
- Decide whether you want to carry out the trademark registration process by yourself or through your lawyer. While you can accomplish the task on your own, it is always better to seek the assistance of a licensed lawyer.
- United States Patent and Trademark Office: Trademark Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services
- United States Patent and Trademark Office: TESS
- United States Patent and Trademark Office: Design Search Code Manual
- United States Patent and Trademark Office: TEAS - the Trademark Electronic Application System
- United States Patent and Trademark Office: Current Fee Schedule
- United States Patent and Trademark Office: TARR
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