Completing the trademark registration process with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a monumental step in regards to both establishing your corporate identity as well as protecting it from being hijacked or misused—both of which can have a detrimental impact on your business operations down the road.
Fortunately, the task of registering a trademark is a relatively uncomplicated process. The following is a quick guide to all the requisite steps for registering a trademark for your company’s name or logo.
What Exactly is a Trademark?
Let’s start with the basics: What is the official definition of a trademark? Put simply, a trademark is a designation of brand. The USPTO considers a trademark to be a “word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of the others.” A trademark offers protection of words and design elements that serve to identify the source, owner, or developer of a given product or service. It functions to legally differentiate a product or service from all others of its kind and recognizes the source of the company’s ownership of the brand. Trademarks are important in every industry, as they protect the associated product or service from being used or sold without the express permission of the source organization.
Trademark Registration Steps
The following steps are essential when registering a trademark:
Conduct a Trademark Search
The first step in registering for a trademark is to conduct a thorough search of the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) in order to ensure the name and/or logo you want to utilize isn’t already in use. Because the TESS database contains records for countless trademarks, you will need to develop a strategic approach to search effectively to mitigate any risk of potential legal issues later. An effective TESS search is broad enough to uncover all the trademarks that are likely to create confusion with yours, and sufficiently narrow to limit the number of results that need to be evaluated to a manageable amount.
Complete an Application & File
After you’ve completed an adequate TESS search and ensured your name is sufficiently unique, the next step is to complete your trademark application using the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), where you provide a detailed overview of your trademark. The application will require information such as:
- A name and future address for future communication with the USPTO
- An image of the desired logo or the desired name
- An accurate description of the logo and/or name
- A detailed list of the goods and/or services to be covered by the trademark
- The class of the goods or services to be provided
- An example of the logo in use as well as the date it was initially used
- A signature by an authorized representative of your organization
- A registration fee
After completing the application paperwork, you will have the option of either filing under a TEAS Plus or TEAS Standard option. The Plus category is cheaper, less complicated, and has a lower rejection rate. If you require a customized description of your goods or services that is unavailable in the preset list the Plus option provides you, then the TEAS Standard option is the way to go.
If your trademark registration is approved by the USPTO, it remains valid for as long as you wish to maintain it. After a trademark is issued, it does not automatically expire so long as it remains in active use for the registered purpose outlined in the initial application. It should be noted, however, that solely using the trademark is not sufficient to maintain it. Organizations must provide the USPTO with verifiable evidence that the trademark is actively being used by filing a Section 8 declaration between the fifth and sixth year following the initial registration date. At the ten-year mark, actual proof of trademark use is required, which can be satisfied by submitting an image of your product or service utilizing the trademark. This requirement must be fulfilled every ten years.
If you have any questions about trademarks, reach out to Geraci Law Firm here.