Trademarks and service marks identify your goods and services so consumers may distinguish your offerings from those of every other company. Typical marks include single words, phrases, symbols, designs or some combination of these elements. You do not have to register your mark to enjoy basic trademark protection. You have rights that stem from your actual use of the mark in the course of doing business. If you want additional legal remedies that enhance your abilities to sue infringers, you must register your trademark. You may register at the state level and, if you are involved in interstate commerce, on the federal level with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Compare your logo to registered and unregistered trademarks in the USPTO and your state's databases. Alter your logo if it is similar enough to another mark as to create a “likelihood of confusion” for the public that your goods are related to those of another entity.
Read More: Difference Between a Logo & Trademark
Use your logo throughout the geographic region in which you sell goods to establish the area in which you are asserting your exclusive rights.
Apply for trademark protection in accordance with the laws of each state where you are using, or intend to use, your logo in commerce. Provide the date you first used the logo in that state, a drawing of the logo and a description of the goods to which you are connecting the mark.
Apply to the USPTO for federal trademark protection of the logo you are using, or intend to use, if you sell goods to someone in a state other than the state where your business is located. Apply by submitting a drawing of the logo, statement identifying the goods to which the mark will apply, and payment of the appropriate fees.
Protect your trademark by reviewing advertisements and brochures to see if any of your competitors are using your logo. Quickly contact any company that uses your logo and insist the usage stop. Use your trademark only in connection with the goods to which the trademark pertains. Use your trademark in some form of advertising every year. Renew your federal and state registrations within the designated time periods.
You may not materially alter your logo once you apply for a trademark without reapplying for a new registration. Register your logo only after you are certain you have created the final design.
Trademarks are only for goods. If you provide a service, you must apply for a service mark. The procedures are essentially the same, but the USPTO requires you to complete a separate set of documents. You must identify the actual service rather than specify the tangible goods to which the logo applies.
Monitor the progress of your trademark application through the system to keep abreast of any filings you need to make to support your application.
Lee Roberts has written professionally in different capacities throughout her career. She has written for not-for-profit and commercial entities since she received her Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Michigan in 1986. She is currently writing an extensive work of fiction.