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The Basics of Trademark Law

Wednesday, December 2nd

The Basics of Trademark Law

Whether you have a service business or have your own product line, there is probably some part of your business that is unique. That makes it necessary for you to consider obtaining a trademark.

Typically, a trademark is any symbol, expression, word, sign or logo that specifically identifies your specific product or service and is unique to your business or service. A trademark protects the branding or the name of the product. To be trademark eligible the name or expression must be unique rather than generic.

Obtaining a trademark gives you several benefits and protects you and your business in the marketplace.

First, a trademark illustrates to consumers and clients that you own this product or service. Second, since you register a trademark with the federal government, you can enforce your rights regarding your trademarked product or service in federal courts. That means you can defend your rights anywhere in the U.S. no matter what size business you own. Last, having a registered trademark protects your product or business from foreign competition and is a beginning step in establishing your international rights in case your business goes international.

There are two types of trademarks. Trademarks are used by the owners to identify physical commodities which may be natural or manufactured and which are sold and distributed in the marketplace. Service marks are used to identify services and their providers.

Both types of trademarks are obtained through an application process with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application can be obtained online and filed on the internet using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). Prior to filing the application, you may want to use TEAS to search existing trademarks online to ensure what you want to trademark has not already been trademarked by another company. Whether you undertake this step or not, staff members of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will undertake this search as part of your application process to ensure your trademark will not infringe on the rights of another.

Once you have filed an application for trademark, you may have to wait for up to six months to be granted the trademark. Registered trademarks last forever unlike patents and copyrights which expire. However, you can lose your trademark if you fail to use it, if the term or name loses its meaning or through improper licensing such as simply giving it away.

Once you obtain approval of your trademark from the federal government, you may use the ® symbol in all your print and online business pieces.

Obtaining a registered trademark should be part of your overall business plan so that your business benefits from the protections that it offers.

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Trademark Registration Service FAQ

Intellectual property can be protected in several ways, one of which is through trademark registration. Having a trademark helps ensure that your goods, services, brand or slogan can't be used by someone else.
Good question! A trademark is used to demonstrate ownership of a slogan, brand, symbol - one that you use to differentiate your goods and services from other sellers' and providers'. In contrast, patents are used to protect how an innovation works or looks, while copyrights protect creative works like music, movies, or even computer code.
Almost anything used to represent your brand can be protected through trademark registration. Whether you use a tagline to make your company memorable, have a logo emblazoned on your signage and business cards, or use a unique font that you want to keep as your own, it all qualifies as eligible to be registered as a trademark.
It can get complicated to accurately complete all of the paperwork required for trademark registration. Using a service that specializes in this process can save you some time and a considerable amount of worry. The best services walk you through each step, ensuring that your application is filled out properly before it is submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The US Patent and Trademark Office charges a base fee of $400 or $600, depending on whether you file electronically or on paper. That's in addition to any fees paid to a trademark registration service, which usually range from $99 to over $1900, depending on the level of service you select.
Getting the initial paperwork completed may be done as quickly as one business day. From there, most services offering help with trademark registration will conduct a search to ensure that your trademark doesn't conflict with others that have been registered by other applicants. Once your trademark has been cleared, your application will be sent to the USPTO for registration. From there, it can take several months for your application to be reviewed and approved.
Absolutely. Many of these services have been available for decades. It's a wise choice to use a trademark registration service, to make it less likely that your application will be rejected - which would add even more time to an already-lengthy process. For extra reassurance that the provider you've selected is a reputable one, be sure to consider feedback from previous clients or look for a rating from the Better Business Bureau.
That depends on the service you select. Some offer an error-free guarantee, but only a few will give you a refund on the fees that you paid for their assistance. Also, if the service has already paid the required fees to the USPTO on your behalf, you won't get those funds back.
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