Simple Trademark Tips
Do you have a product or service that you’d like to trademark? Not sure if you want to go through the long and drawn out process of filing a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to go ahead with registering a trademark:
Tip 1: Ask yourself if you NEED to register your trademark or service mark?
Trademark registration provides additional benefits and protections, such as the ability to sue over your mark in federal court and the right to use the federal registration symbol, ®. However, common law trademark protections are automatically granted by simply utilizing a product or service and putting it into the marketplace. In doing so, you are automatically entitled to the use of the ™ symbol (for a product) or the ℠ symbol for a service.
Tip 2: Make sure that the mark that you’re seeking to register is unique.
The most important element of a trademark is that it's distinguishing. Not only is having a distinctive mark more beneficial to your business, but it’s a requirement to legally register a trademark.
Tip 3: Filing an application with the USPTO does not guarantee registration of the trademark.
The filing fee is a processing fee, which is non-refundable, even if the trademark isn’t issued after review of the application.
Tip 4: Prior to filing, you must conduct a search through the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)
This is to determine whether any mark has already been registered or applied for that is similar to your mark AND used on related products or for related services (its existence would bar registration of your mark). In addition, the USPTO conducts their own search for conflicting marks as part of the official examination of an application. To find a conflict, the marks do not have to be identical or the goods and services the same; instead, it is sufficient if the marks are similar and the goods and or services related. Similarity in sound, appearance, or meaning may be sufficient to support a finding of likelihood of confusion.
Tip 5: Utilize the Trademark Information Network (TMIN)
The TMIN is a great resourse for helpful insights into the trademark application process. The informational videos can be accessed here.
Although the USPTO has streamlined its application by providing an online form through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), the process can still seem daunting and unfamiliar. As with any legal process, it may be helpful to consult a trademark attorney or utilize one of the many online legal resources that specialize in assisting with filing a trademark application.
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Contributed by our Team Member, Leslie