How to Trademark a Name. There are two types of Trademarks in common use in the United States. The trademark symbol (™) can really be used by anyone. If there is a conflict in the use of the Mark, the conflict is resolved legally and the earliest published use of the mark wins. To prevent this sort of conflict, many people register their trademarks. A registered trademark is awarded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which is an agency of the United States Department of Commerce. A registered trademark is required to use the symbol (®). A registered trademark is valid for a term of use which may be renewed. This article is meant to describe the process-and nobody should use this information in replacement of sound legal advice.
The first step is to visit the Government website for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (see Resources below). Read the background information about trademarks. There is a lot. To apply for a registered trademark, you have to show evidence about the first use of the mark in commerce. It is highly recommended you use a lawyer to obtain a registered trademark. You can not trademark a common word. For example, you can't trademark the word Imagery because it is a common word. You can trademark Imagery Consulting if that mark is not already in use.
Next use the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). Search on the words you want to research. Select NEW USER FORM SEARCH to begin your search.
The TESS will return a list of trademarks in use. Notice the status of the trademark. Double-click on the link which will open an information page on the use of that trademark. Trademarks are "industry specific." For example, if the mark is being used in the "Medical Industry" and you want to use the mark in the "Entertainment Industry" it would be OK. However, if you want to use the mark for a radio station and it was already being used for a TV station, that would not be OK.
You can download all the application forms at the government website and even begin the application online. You may begin using your trademark (™) in commerce immediately if you find that it is not in use in your industry. You must be awarded the right to use the (®) symbol and doing so without filing is a federal offense.
It is highly recommended that you use an attorney to file for a Trademark. This is not written by a lawyer and this article doesn't contain any legal advice. It is merely an attempt to describe the process.