Registering a trademark is vital because it protects a key commercial asset, the company’s brand. Here’s how to register a trademark.

What you’ll discover:

What should I do first to register a trademark?
How should I complete the trademark application form?
How long will I have to wait after submitting my trademark application?
How can I protect my trademark while I wait for it to be registered?

To protect your company’s brand, register your logo, brand name, or tagline (often known as a “slogan”) as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) before anybody else. Trademark registration may assist guarantee that no one else uses the same or similar name, logo, slogan, or trade dress (the visual appearance of a product or its packaging) as yours for a comparable product or service. Be wary of typical problems throughout the trademark registration procedure. These are the fundamental stages and other information you should be aware of.

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What should I do first to register a trademark?

A trademark application and cost are required for registration. A trademark examiner at the USPTO will check its own records throughout the application review process to ensure that the mark you wish to register is not already registered by someone else. Hence, before applying to register your trademark, you should perform your own search to ensure that you are not wasting time and money. You may check USPTO records for anything that might prevent your application from being approved.

The USPTO offers a database, known as the Trademark Electronic Search System, to assist you in conducting a search. A comprehensive search should turn up any markings that contain words like:

Text. Graphics.
Terms that are similar.
Phonetic equivalents.
Translations from other languages.

The most time-consuming aspect of trademark registration is the research. Maintaining a list of search phrases you use while you do your search will help you avoid overlooking important terms. It may also assist you in avoiding unintentionally duplicating your efforts. If the search procedure seems to be excessively time-consuming, you can consider hiring a trademark expert to do the clearance search and offer an opinion on what the search finds.

How should I complete the trademark application form?

Fill up the online application using the Trademark Electronic Application System for the quickest registration experience. A price of $250 to $350 (per class) is charged to cover the categories of products and services that you wish to include in your application. The charge of $250 is for a pre-selected description of goods and services that has already been authorized by the USPTO. The $350 charge is for a free-form description, which allows you greater latitude in characterizing your product or service, but keep in mind that the USPTO may reject your application if the description is incorrect. If this occurs, you may be able to resolve the issue by altering the descriptions.

The following information will be required for the trademark application:

Information about the owner of a trademark (individual or corporate name, address, entity type, and representative information).
The name or image of the design or logo as it appears or will appear on your product and/or service.
Basis for filing: Do you now use the mark or do you plan to do so in the future?
The first time this name, logo, or design was used in commerce (both in the U.S. and worldwide, if applicable).
Describe each product and/or service that you offer under the mark.
If you already use the mark, you will be requested to give an example, or “specimen,” of how you utilize the mark for each class in the application.

How long will I have to wait after submitting my trademark application?

Based on current processing timelines, the USPTO may take 7-9 months to complete its first evaluation and either notify you of any difficulties with the application or let you to move to the next phase. If the USPTO finds no problems with the original application, the mark will be published on a public register for 30 days. If no one comes forward to oppose (or object to) your application over this 30-day period, it will most likely be accepted.

You may use the TM sign before the mark is registered. Only once your trademark has been registered may you use the ® sign.

How can I protect my trademark while I wait for it to be registered?

Trademark rights, also known as common law rights, are created merely by utilizing the trademark to offer a goods or service in the marketplace. If someone uses your trademark without your permission, you may submit a Cease and Desist Letter to enforce your rights. You cannot assert that it is a registered trademark, but you may assert that it is yours based on earlier usage and resemblance of the marks and associated products and services.

You should also consider utilizing the TM symbol until your trademark is registered. The TM symbol informs people that you are claiming common law trademark rights in your mark(s) and that they should think twice before utilizing the same or similar marks for commercial purposes.

Copyright laws give further protection for intellectual property rights. Copyright protects original authorship works such as literary, theatrical, musical, and creative works, as well as computer program code and logos.

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