When you think of your favorite businesses, chances are your initial thoughts will involve characteristic logo graphics or phrases, such as Amazon’s arrow from A to Z. Companies built a distinct trademark (or simply “mark”) and then applied it consistently throughout all of their marketing, which is why you immediately think of these identifiers. Formalizing a product or service with a registered mark not only provides the required legal protection but also gives businesses a proven visual tool to connect with consumers. Here’s a primer on trademarks and how they might benefit your business.
What Is A Trademark?
A trademark, as defined by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is “a term, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies your goods and services” and differentiates your business from rivals. A trademark is used to identify commodities, whereas a service mark is used to identify services. A trade mark grants you the exclusive right to use your mark and prevents rivals from using a mark that is identical to or extremely similar to yours.
Simply utilising a name, emblem, or slogan in your business provides some kind of trademark protection, albeit these “common law” trademarks are difficult to defend and only apply in your surrounding area. By registering your trademark with your state, you can obtain statewide trademark protection. However, registering your mark with the USPTO provides the greatest and most comprehensive mark protection.
Registration Of A Federal Trademark:
- This service creates a public record of your trademark ownership.
- It prevents others from registering deceptively identical trademarks to yours.
- It also allows you to sue in federal court if someone infringes on your trade mark.
- It is now easy to register your trade mark in other countries.
- can be used to prevent the importation of items that violate your mark.
- It allows you to utilise the recognised mark sign, ®.
While copyright protects unique written works, such as a song, novel, piece of art, or database, trademarks protect intellectual property that helps identify a brand.
What Can You Trademark?
- Nicknames and product names (for example, both Coca-Cola and Coke are marked)
- Sounds (like the distinct NBC chimes)
- company names
- Slogans (for example, Nike’s “Just Do It”)
- Colour schemes or colour pairings (like the brown of a UPS truck)
- Odours (sure, there are smells. (In 2018, Hasbro got a Play-Doh trademark.)
What Is Not Patentable?
- Any mark that is currently in use or is too close to an existing mark
- Words of general description
- Messages or phrases that are often used
- Religious quotations and passages
To be eligible for federal trademark protection, your mark must be unique and unlikely to be mistaken for another mark. When selecting a mark, analyse what you’re selling, why it’s unique, and what makes it unique. Avoid using broad descriptions of your products or services—the more unique your proposed mark, the more likely it will be approved. Prepare to spend a significant amount of time browsing the USPTO website for any trademarks that may be regarded as comparable to yours.
It is quite particular; your mark will only apply to the sort of products or services for which you seek protection. Various businesses may continue to use your mark for other sorts of goods or services. Delta, for example, is a name brand for both an airline and a faucet.
How To Register A Trademark
While getting a trademark used to be a paper-intensive procedure, the US Patent and Trademark Office has considerably simplified the process by making it available online. Be prepared to wait a long time for approval. There are several phases involved, and candidates should expect to wait 12 to 18 months for a decision.
Obtaining a trademark is divided into numerous steps:
Step 1: Select Your Trade mark
After you’ve decided on a prospective trademark, you’ll need to conduct some research and choose how you want your mark to be protected. Here’s how it’s done:
- Check the USPTO database to verify if the words, designs, commodities, or services you want to trademark are already in use.
- Select a mark format, such as a regular character mark, a design mark, or a sound mark.
- Using the ID Master List, provide the specific goods and services to which the trademark will apply, as well as the relevant trademark class.
- Choose the foundation for your case.
Step 2: Fill out your application and submit it.
Create an account with the USPTO, then prepare and submit your application online. It is important to note that the first Tm fee will be $250 or $350 per class of goods or services, depending on whether you pick TEAS Plus or TEAS Standard.
Step 3: Wait for Approval
If your application fulfils the filing criteria, the USPTO will assign it a serial number and forward it to an examining attorney for evaluation. If the attorney discovers problems with your application, you will get a letter to which you must react if you want your application to remain active.
You will receive a letter indicating whether your tm application was approved or denied. If your mark is accepted, it will be published in the USPTO’s weekly publication, the “Official Gazette.” Following publication, any party that feels the mark may cause them harm has 30 days to register an objection. Your mark will be registered if there is no opposition or if the opposition is resolved in your favour.
Step 4: Complete the Final Paperwork
A USPTO trademark registration must be kept current for as long as you desire to use the mark. To make sure your registration doesn’t expire, you must fill out certain forms and check the Trade mark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) system every year.
Various Trade mark Symbols Explained.
A Tm can be shown by one of three possible symbols:
- TM: This is the most common trademark symbol, and it can be used by anyone regardless of registration status. Including this mark informs other firms that you have claimed ownership of a name, logo, or slogan.
- ®: This symbol, which stands for a registered trade mark, can only be used by trademarks that have been approved by the USPTO.
- SM: This is a “service mark.” It is solely used for services, not items, as the name implies. This sign, like the TM, can be used without registration.