Trademarks FAQ

Do I need to file for a trademark?

Legally speaking a trademark can be a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a 
combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes 
the manufacturer and/or seller as the source of the goods or services. 

What is federal trademark registration?

A federal trademark registration is an official acknowledgement from the US Patent 
and Trademark Office of ownership of a mark based on the US Patent and 
Trademark Office’s review process and the mark owner’s actual use of the mark on 
particular goods or services in US interstate commerce. 

Do I need to file for a trademark?

In the United States, trademark and service. Trademark registration is not mandatory 
for use and own a mark in the United States since under common law trademark rights 
are acquired by actual use of the mark on particular goods or services Trademarks. 

What type of protection does a federal trademark registration provide?

Some of the protections of a federally registered trademark include: 
 
(a) official acknowledgement that you are the deemed by the US government as the presumed owner of the mark,
(b) motivate competitors to try an avoid copying or incorporating the same or a similar mark as yours,
(c) makes it easier for you to stop infringers in court,
(d) allows you the ability to use U.S. Customs to Enforce to prevent the importing of infringing products or services,
(e) allows you the ability to use Registration Symbol ® next to your mark. 

What kinds of things can be trademarked?

Almost anything that serves to that identifies and distinguishes a manufacturer and/or seller as the source of the goods or services can be trademarked. Trademarks may include any word, name, phrase, slogan, a way or presenting or spelling a word, symbol, shape, or drawing, details of packaging, design of store (trade dress), sound, smell or device, or any combination.

What are the steps for registering a trademark?

The general steps for registering a trademark include:

  1. Determining if a mark is available for use and potential registration in connection with your goods or services. This is usually done through a trademark-screening search.
  2. Once you have determined that the mark is available for use and potential registration, you can either apply for the mark through an “intent-to-use” trademark application or else use the mark in interstate commerce and then file for a “use”
    trademark application.
  3. Receive a certificate of registration and use the ® next to the mark to put people on notice.

How do to choose a trademark?

The general rule for choosing a trademark is to:

  1. pick a mark that you like,
  2. pick a mark that is unique (such as the word “target” for a store)
  3. pick a mark that does not suggest or describe your product or services (such as the word “turbo powered” for an automobile that has a turbo engine), and
  4. pick a mark that is not generic (such as the word water for bottled water).

What are the requirements for getting a trademark?

The general requirement for a trademark application includes:

  1. the words and/or design you wish to register
  2. for marks that have been used in interstate commerce your will also need a specimen such as a product label, container, packaging for the goods and services which shows the trademark as being use/sold in interstate commerce, and
  3. a description or listing of the goods and services associated with the trademark.

How can I tell if I can use a mark?

To determine if you can use a trademark you should perform a trademark-screening search (also known as a preliminary search). This can be done by either by (1) searching for the mark that you want to use through the internet on search engine sites such as Google ™, Bing ™, and Yahoo ™ or (2) on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s web site, or both. If you want further assurances you can also have one of our attorneys perform the search for a pretty low fee.

Can I use my business name that I incorporate through my state as a trademark?

Incorporating or registering a business name through a state is unrelated a trademark filing and does not mean that you are clear to use the name as a trademark. Most state’s business name review process are done only to ensure that there are no identical company/business names in that state.

If I register my mark in one class, can someone else register the mark in another class?

The answer is it depends on how well know your mark becomes and how close the products or services in the other class are to your products or services. The general test for how close the products or services in the other class are to your products or services is the legal principle of “Likelihood of Confusion” which include a number of factors such as trade channels.

How long is do trademark last?

Under common law rights trademark last as long as you use and maintain control of the mark.
Similarly Federal trademark registrations can also last as long as you use and maintain control of the mark.  However, Federal Trademark Rule require that you actively maintain your Federal Trademark Registration through a renewal process which occurs between the 9th and 10 anniversary of the grant date of the Federal 
Trademark Registration. 

What does registration cost?

The cost of registration depends on a number of factors including the amount of different types of goods or services that you are using in association with your mark and how difficult the examination process is through the Patent and Trademark Office has any problems with the application. You should expect to spend $1,000-$2,000 to register a single mark in a single class of goods or services.

What information do I need to apply for a federal trademark application?

Generally speaking, in order to prepare and file for a Federal Trademark
Application you will need:

  1. the mark that you want to apply for,
  2. a description of the goods or services that will be associated with the
    trademark,
  3. the name of the person or business entity that will own the trademark,
  4. the legal entity of the person or business that will own the trademark (i.e., individual citizen, Corporation, Limited Liability Company) and where they live or the state that the business is incorporated in,
  5. the principal place of business,
  6. the first date that you used the trademark, and
  7. whether you have used the trademark in interstate commerce.

Does my US registration protect my trademark in any foreign countries?

Your US registration does not protect you in any foreign countries and there is currently no worldwide trademark registration available.  While there are laws in place which provide easier filing in other countries, in order to be protected in foreign countries you will have to file a separate trademark application in each of the countries that you want patent protection in or if applicable, a community trademark covering group of countries such as through the “Madrid Protocol.”