What is my first step in registering a trademark?
Trademark registration requires an application and a fee. During the application evaluation process, a trademark examiner at the USPTO will do a search of its own records to make sure the mark you want to register is not already registered by someone else. So, before you apply to register your trademark, you may want to conduct your own search to make sure you aren’t wasting time and money. You can search USPTO records yourself for anything that could block your application.
To help you conduct a search, the USPTO provides a database, also known as the Trademark Electronic Search System. A thorough search should reveal any marks that include similar:
- Similar terms.
- Phonetic equivalents.
- Foreign translations.
The research can be the most time-consuming part of trademark registration. Keeping a list of search terms you use as you do your search can help you avoid missing key terms. It can also help you avoid accidentally repeating your work. If the search process seems too cumbersome, you might consider using a service provider with trademark expertise to conduct the clearance search and provide an opinion about what the search reveals. Rocket Lawyer trademark experts and lawyers can provide you with end-to-end trademark services that include the search process and evaluation of potential risks to your application.
How do I fill out the trademark application form?
For the fastest registration experience, you can fill out the online application through the Trademark Electronic Application System. A fee between $250 and $350 (per class) covers the classes of goods and services that you want to include in your application. The $250 fee is for a pre-selected description of goods and services already approved by the USPTO. The $350 fee is for a free-form description, which gives you more flexibility in describing your product or service, but note that the USPTO could deny your application for improper descriptions. If that happens, you might be able to fix the problem by modifying the descriptions.
The trademark application will require the following information:
- Trademark owner information (individual or corporate name, address, entity type, and representative information).
- Name or picture of the design or logo exactly as it appears or will appear on your product and/or service.
- Filing basis: Are you currently using the mark or do you intend to in the future?
- The dates that this name, logo, or design was first used in commerce (both in the U.S. and worldwide, if applicable).
- Description of every product and/or service that you sell using the mark.
- If you currently use the mark, you will be asked to provide an example, or “specimen,” of how the mark is used for each class in the application.
How long can I expect to wait after I submit my trademark application?
Based on current processing times, it may take anywhere from 7-9 months for the USPTO to complete its initial review and either let you know if there are any issues with the application or allow you to proceed to the next step. If the USPTO does not identify any issues with the initial application, it will publish the mark on a public register for 30 days. If no one steps forward to oppose (or object to) your application during this 30 day period, then your application will likely be approved.
Before the mark is registered, you can use the ™ symbol. The ® symbol is only available after your trademark has been registered.
How do I protect my trademark while I wait for its registration?
Trademark rights, also called common law rights, are established simply by using the trademark in the marketplace to sell a product or service. If someone uses your trademark without permission, you can send a Cease and Desist Letter asserting your rights. You can't claim that it is a registered trademark, but you can claim that it is yours based on priority of use and similarity in the marks and related goods and services.
You might also consider using the ™ sign until your mark is registered. The ™ sign alerts others that you are asserting common law trademark rights in your mark(s) and that they should think twice before using the same or similar marks for their own commercial purposes.
Copyright laws also provide another form of protection for intellectual property rights. Copyright protects original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, computer software code, and logos.
Registering a trademark is an excellent way to enforce your rights in your business’s brand, but the process can be time consuming and confusing. If you have questions or want help registering a trademark, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney or a Rocket Lawyer trademark expert.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.