In the corporate world, names matter. Hence, protecting a company’s intellectual property, such as its name or brand, through trademark registration is a smart move as the company expands. Companies that care about their brand’s uniqueness should take steps to secure their name by registering it as their own and reserving the right to use it in all future incarnations. Trademark registration is challenging, but the benefits it offers make it worthwhile.
In registering a trademark, a form must be filled out for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) like the trademark statement of use example. Before submitting a paper application or one filed electronically through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), make sure to conduct a trademark check to see if your desired mark is already in use to save effort, time, and resources.
If you are planning to register your mark, here is a quick guide to getting a trademark.
What Does “Trademark” Mean?
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a trademark pertains to any word, phrase, group of numbers or letters, color, symbol, and/or design that sets one company’s goods and services from the others. Upon successful registration, anyone who uses or misrepresents your trademark without your permission are held liable by the law.
A trademark is not the same as a patent or a copyright. Patent law governs innovations in science and engineering and does not cover trademarks. When goods and services are patented, no one else can legally utilize them. Coyright protection is limited to literary and artistic works, while trademarks protect commercial goods. In the absence of the author’s or creator’s express consent, no one else may make commercial use of or distribute copies of the work. It is called copyright infringement when this happens.
Trademark Registration: What You Need To Know
The registration process requires you to accomplish these steps in order to successfully get a trademark.
1. Determine If Your Proposed Mark Satisfies Trademark Criteria
Before filing for trademark protection, you must be sure that your mark passes the basic requirements. Foremost, it must be any form of identification that is used to indicate a product’s or service’s origin, such as a word, phrase, symbol, design, or gadget. Even sounds, smells, and other things that can help people figure out where a product or service came from can be protected as trademarks.
To differentiate yourself from the competition, any trademark you seek to register must be truly unique to your company. Remember that trademark protection does not apply to generic names. Avoid using terms for your trademark that describe the product’s qualities, features, purposes, or functions.
2. Identify The Type of Mark You Have
There are essentially three distinct mark layouts. Only one of the following options is acceptable in filling out your application.
- Standard Character Format
- Special Character Format
- Sound Mark
This template can be used to record any string of characters (words, letters, numerals, etc.) without regard to font size or style. Your trademark can be used in any typeface and design using a standard character format.
This style is used to protect your mark if it has a design element or specific words, letters, or numbers that are written in a special way. The apple emblem used by Apple and the distinctive typography found on Coca-Cola soda cans are two examples of logos and symbols that have become synonymous with their respective brands.
This is a kind of trademark that uses sound to perform the function of identification. The NBC chime, the lion’s scream at MGM, and the Intel Pentium sequence are all examples of distinctive company identifiers.
3. Submit Your Trademark Application
One of the first things you’ll have to decide is whether to use TEAS Plus or TEAS Standard to fill out the application. You must utilize a description of your goods or services that the USPTO has approved. Remember that your initial TEAS Plus application must be completed and submitted by a U.S.-licensed attorney if you are an international applicant.
You must pay all applicable filing fees at the time of your initial application if you are using TEAS Plus. However, only one application filing fee is due when you send in your first TEAS Standard application, and the rest are due at different points. You are free to craft the description of your offerings in accordance with the TEAS Standard, but it must do justice to the quality of those offerings.
The next step is for you to provide some information about the trademark’s owner, which can be an individual or a company. Then, you need to decide whether the application is based on the actual or expected use of the mark in business. After that, you’ll need to either type the mark precisely as it appears on your products and services or provide an image of your logo if you’re registering a design mark.
After submission, the only thing left to do is to wait for approval, which usually takes 12 to 18 months.
A Trademark’s Role In Business
When a trademark is registered, the owner gets the exclusive right to use it in business all over the country for the goods or services for which it was registered. Copycats who try to trick customers with names that sound similar to the mark are less likely to get into the market if they know they can be sued.
Another benefit of trademarking is the prestige that comes with brand ownership and the ability to use the ® sign next to a name legally.
A further perk is that U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not allow identical products to be imported from outside and sold in the United States by competing firms.
Constraints on Trademark Use
There are constraints on trademarks that you also need to be aware of. It’s important to note that while the USPTO does register trademarks, it does not monitor or enforce them in any way. As the trademark holder, you are responsible for monitoring the internet for trademark infringement and pursuing legal action against offenders.
Moreover, there are ways to register a trademark overseas, but a U.S. trademark will only protect your name within the United States. After ten years, a trademark becomes void unless it is renewed. You must also remember that a trademark is not the same as a federal tax ID and cannot be used in place of a state business license. Additionally, a trademark only protects your brand name for the types of goods and services you list in your application. If you plan on offering more than one service or product, you will need to fill out a second application.
Should I Register This Trademark?
If you are concerned that others will use your trademarked brand name or logo without your consent, trademark protection is a perfect solution. It’s also beneficial if your business has plans to expand into multiple states. While acquiring a trademark can be time-consuming and optional, it provides additional protection that your business needs. Having such safeguards in place can give customers the impression that your company is legitimate.