Trademarks have a long history dating back to ancient civilizations, where they were used to distinguish one’s goods from another’s. However, the modern concept of trademark law can be traced back to the 19th century, when the first trademark laws were enacted in countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States.
In the US, the first trademark law was enacted in 1870, which allowed for the registration of trademarks with the Patent Office. This was followed by the passage of the Trade Mark Act of 1905, which provided greater protection for registered trademarks. In the 20th century, the concept of trademarks expanded to include service marks — which are used to distinguish services rather than goods. The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, signed in 1883, also provided for international recognition of trademarks.
Today, trademark law has become an essential part of business, with companies relying on their trademarks to establish their brand identity and distinguish themselves from their competitors.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a form of intellectual property consisting of a word, phrase, design, or symbol that identifies the goods and services of a company and distinguishes its brand from competitors.
In business, names have influence, they matter. So, for companies that wish to guarantee that a name remains distinctive, it is crucial to get a trademark.
Trademark registration can help safeguard a brand’s identity or reputation from infringement or theft of intellectual property. It gives the owner exclusive rights over its mark and prevents competitors from copying or imitating it in any way.
This article will guide you through the step-by-step process of how to get a registered trademark of your business ‘name to protect your exclusivity rights to use it.
How to get a registered trademark?
The process of getting a trademark can be overwhelming particularly for the uninitiated — it’s a bit long and convoluted. Let’s dive into it. The process starts in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s official website – USPTO. Despite the relatively simple nature of the trademark application form, it is crucial to take your time and conduct a thorough study of it and fill out all the blanks. Following these simple ABCs will help you get familiar with the process of getting a trademark of your business’ name. Here’s how to get started:
Step 1: Determine Whether You Need a Trademark
When a company name is registered as a trademark with the USPTO, you can demonstrate to the public that you have the legal right to use that name — it gives you an ace up your sleeve if you ever find yourself battling the issue out in court. Nonetheless, even if you don’t have your name registered and trademarked, you still have some intellectual property protection..
You can be entitled to what is called a “common law trademark” if your company used the name before any other company in the sector. Yet, this defense is typically restricted only to the region or geographical area where the name is used.
To protect their rights outside their region business owners who hope to someday sell their goods or services across the country will require a federally registered trademark.
Step 2: Conducting a comprehensive trademark search
Your trademark must be unique from all other registered marks; otherwise, the USPTO may reject your application.
Use the Trademark Electronic Search System – TESS – to check if any existing trademarks are comparable to the one you wish to register before settling on a final name.
Look not only for the exact name but also for any variations and names that are similar because any overlap will probably lead to the application being denied.
Step 3: Prepare your Application for Trademark Registration
Applying for a trademark is a difficult process; therefore doing so does not guarantee that you will be given one. The entire procedure can take six months or longer, and the filing fees are not refundable if your application is denied.
Complete and submit your application online using the Trademark Electronic Application System – TEAS. The application will contain:
Information for Entity Filing Application
Information about the person whose name, address, and phone number will be on the trademark form. This could be a person or a company.
Description of Mark
You will jot down your mark at this point. This is referred to as a “standard character mark” if you are registering your company name.
The industry in which the goods or services associated with the mark will be used is your trademark classification. To determine your categorization, visit the Trademark ID Manual on the USPTO website.
Basis for Filing
You’ll have to decide on a form to use—”in commerce” or “intend to use”. Whether or not the mark you want to protect is already in use, may affect which option you select. A “Statement of Use” form must be utilized to demonstrate your mark’s “in commerce” — in other words that you are already making use of it.. Meanwhile an “intend to use” filling simply states that you will eventually employ the mark – It is a transitory phase that will eventually transform into a “in commerce” basis.
Filing Fee Payment
Depending on your basis for filing and the trademark categories you want to cover, the cost of your filing fee will vary.
Step 4: Filing a trademark application
Submit your completed application in the Trademark Electronic Application System -TEAS. The filing options are TEAS Basic and TEAS Plus. TEAS Plus offers a less expensive filing, but only if you utilize a typical description from the Trademark ID guidebook for your product or service. If you make a detailed description, you are required to use the standard TEAS application.
Afterward, a government patent attorney receives the application for evaluation. If a problem is discovered, you’ll get a letter called an “office action” outlining the reasons your mark is being rejected. Your application will be open for six months before it closes.
If your application is accepted, your trademark will be published online, subject to objection for registration. In the event of opposition, you ought to retain a trademark lawyer to represent you before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
Step 5: Responding to office actions
If your application is rejected, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will send you an “office action” letter describing the reasons why.
Within six months of the letter’s mailing, you must respond. There is no room for extension. If you don’t reply to an “office action” by the due date, the USPTO will consider your application abandoned, your trademark won’t be registered, and you won’t get your application fee back.
When responding to an “office action,” it’s important to address every question raised by the examiner. If you don’t, you’ll receive a final office action. In this case, you must abide by the regulations or make a case before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
Step 6: Getting approval and maintaining a trademark
After your trademark has been registered and approved, you must enact a number of important actions in order to utilize, protect, and preserve it.
Remember your trademark renewal dates.
First renewal: five years from the date of registration.
Second renewal: four years after the first renewal.
Subsequent renewals: every 10 years after the second renewal.
Correct use of trademark symbols
Use the TM symbol when referring to your mark both before and after filing for a trademark. Use the tiny circled “R” once you’ve obtained a trademark.
Monitor new trademark filings.
Keep track of any that might have an impact on your brand and take steps to stop their continued use.
Take action the right way when enforcing your trademarks.
In order to prevent a business lawsuit or other litigation, make sure you are within your rights of enforcement.
Professional services – and why they can help.
Professional services provided by attorneys can help you to streamline the process of getting a trademark and provide peace of mind:
Know the law
Can help you navigate the complexities of filing for a trademark.
Protect your brand
They can advise you on how to protect your brand from potential infringement and other legal issues.
Assist with documentation
They can provide assistance in preparing documents, filing applications, and handling any disputes that may arise during the process.
Speed up the process
They can help you get your trademark quickly and efficiently while ensuring that all legal requirements are met.
Assist in getting the trademark
A trademark lawyer will ensure that your trademark is registered with the Patent and Trademark Office.
Prior to filing your trademark application, a trademark lawyer will help you do a clearance search in state and federal databases, common law databases, and trademark databases.
Getting a trademark today.
Getting a trademark is an important step for any business. It provides legal protection for your brand name, logo, and other intellectual property. A trademark can also help you stand out in the market and differentiate your products or services from those of your competitors. Additionally, it can help protect you from counterfeiting and other forms of infringement. With a trademark, you can ensure that no one else uses your brand name or logo without your permission. This helps to protect the value of your business and its associated products or services.