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The Registered Trademark

Common law use vs registered trademark. How to apply for a registered trademark?


The Registered Trademark

Registered Trademark - Logo For Zamboni

Courtesy of Zamboni
The benefits of having a registered trademark as compared to a common law trademark include:
  • Constructive notice nationwide of the trademark owner's claim.
  • More evidence of the ownership of the trademark.
  • Jurisdiction of federal courts may be invoked.
  • Registration can be used as a basis for obtaining registration in other countries.
  • Registration may be filed with the Customs Service to prevent importation of trademark infringing foreign goods.

Common Law Rights

You do not have to register a trademark to use one or have legal claims (called common law rights), however, federal registration has several advantages including notice to the public of the ownership of the mark, a legal presumption of ownership nationwide, and the exclusive right to use the mark on or in connection with the goods or services.

Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark. Generally, the first person to either use a mark in commerce or file an intent-to-use application with the USPTO has the ultimate right to the use and registration of a mark.

Using TEAS

Submitting an application with the USPTO starts the process of registering a trademark. There are online forms you can use to register called the Trademark Electronic Application System or TEAS. The USPTO is encouraging all applicants to file electronically using TEAS.

Registered Trademark - Tutorials & Tips

For indepth information on trademark registration read the following tutorials - How to Register a Trademark and/or Filing Requirements.

The following items have to included with your application.

  • A completed application form submitted in hard copy or electronically that is in the correct format.
  • The appropriate fee.
  • A drawing of the mark to be registered - this is true even if the mark is just an unstylized word.
  • A specimen that depicts the mark being used if the application is based on actual use in commerce.

Registered Trademark - Drawings

The drawing is a mandatory page that depicts the mark you want to register. It will be kept on record by the USPTO for any printing of the mark, including the registration certificate itself.

Your drawing must illustrate the same trademark that is in any specimens. If you have already been using your trademark, show it the way you have been using it.

If your trademark falls under what is called intent-to-use, your drawing must show the mark the way you intend to use it.

If you have or are going to register your trademark in another country, the drawing must depict the mark as it appears or will appear on that registration.

The drawing must display only one mark. You can only apply for one trademark at a time.

To learn more about preparing your drawing, the correct format, and the materials that can be used read Making a Drawing for a Trademark Application

A Proper Specimen

The specimen is evidence that the trademark you want to register is being used by you in business.

Any labels, tags, or containers that have your trademark on it make acceptable specimens. Also any advertising such as magazine advertisements or brochures would be good. Actual specimens, rather than copies are preferred. However, if your original specimens cannot be mailed or are larger than 8½" x 11", then submit photographs or good photocopies of the specimens that are 8½" x 11" or less.

The specimen and the drawing might sound similar, however, there are not the same.

To learn more about specimens, what you can submit, and other conditions read and view Preparing Your Specimen.

Registration Fees

Currently, the minimum fee for trademark registration is $325 for each international class. This does not include the fees for hiring a lawyer if you need one. There are additional fees you will have to pay to the USPTO. See - Trademark Fees.

Where To Send Your Trademark Application

You can use TEAS to submit your application electronically or snail mail it to:

Commissioner for Trademarks
P.O. Box 1451
Alexandria, VA 22313-1451

Trademark registration can last forever as long as the proper maintenance documents are filed and the mark remains in use in commerce.

Next: How to do a Federal Trademark Search?

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