It is possible to register certain types of trademarks and service marks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Registration makes it easier to protect a mark against would-be copiers.
Difficulty Level: Hard Time Required: NA
- A trademark is either a word, phrase, symbol or design, or plural combination, which identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods or services of one party from those of others.
- A service mark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product.
- Some well know trademarks are; Got Milk?, Channel No.5, Popsicle, Calvin Klein, the Pillsbury Doughboy figure, the shape of a Coke bottle, the sound of the NBC chimes and the graphical image of the NBC peacock.
- The tm symbol represents an unregistered trademark. The sm symbol represents an unregistered service mark. Both are informal notification that there is a public claim as a trademark/service mark.
- The registration symbol ® tells the public that the mark is federally registered and protected. Using the ® without being federally registered would be fraud.
- To register a trademark you must already by using it in recognized commerce. Trademarks can give you either local, state, nationwide or international rights.
- Your trademark cannot be the same as or similar to an existing mark used on similar or related goods or services. Your trademark cannot be generic or lack distinctiveness.
- An applicant is not required to conduct a search for conflicting marks prior to applying, the USPTO will do one. If they find a same or similar trademark, your application will be dismissed without a refund.
- You register your trademark by submitting an application with the USPTO. Merely submitting an application does not guarantee registration.
- Your application will consist of a hard copy or electronically filled-in form, the appropriate fee, a drawing of the mark to be registered and specimens of use of the mark.
- The minimum cost for applying for registration of a trademark is $325 for a single class. Average costs are between $1000 to $2000 with a lawyer.
- You should start using the tm or sm symbol right away with your trademark, even before you apply for federal registration.
- Seek the advice of an attorney for any questions you may have before submitting your trademark application, due to possible complications that could arise if you do it yourself without the proper knowledge or experience.
- A trademark is different from a copyright or a patent. A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work; a patent protects an invention.
- Off limits for trademarks are the names/likeness of living persons or dead presidents without consent, the US flag, federal/local insignias and marks that would cause slander or be immoral.
- You should try doing a preliminary online trademark search yourself. Educate
yourself in trademark registration even if you use a lawyer.