What Is a Trademark Review?
A trademark review is part of a trademark application process to determine if a conflict exists with existing trademarks. The examining attorney ensures that the trademark meets technical requirements and does not have any potential risk of violating another brand’s trademarked assets.
All trademark review applications go through the USPTO, the United States Patent, and Trademark Office. Once you apply, you receive a serial number and are assigned a trademark examining attorney.
Here is an article with more information about the trademark examination process.
Types of Trademarks
Trademarks offer both business and individuals legal protection for a trademark logo, trademark word, phrase, symbol, or design that’s representative of goods or services.
There are five primary types of trademarks:
Generic trademarks must include specific details in qualifying for trademarking. For example, it must clearly describe the characteristics and qualities of your business's goods or services.
Descriptive trademarks usually identify one or more specific product or service characteristics. The unique elements qualify for trademark protection by having a secondary meaning. Specifically, consumers recognize and associate with your business.
An example of a descriptive trademark would be Apple. Consumers automatically associate Apple’s logo with smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Suggestive Trademarks have inferred meaning. They imply something about the goods or services. Trademarks that fall under this category qualify for legal protection without needing to have a secondary meaning.
By using the term “suggestive,” the consumer can use imagination to determine the goods or services offered. An example of a suggestive trademark would be the Target bullseye.
While it suggests that consumers have scored low prices by going to the store, it doesn’t automatically demonstrate that the logo is for a store.
As the name implies, a fanciful trademark differs from any others. Because there’s usually much competition, obtaining a trademark in this category is the easiest.
An excellent example of a fanciful trademark is Sketchers. There is no true meaning behind the word, so trademarking it doesn’t infringe on another company that may have similar product offerings.
An arbitrary trademark is a word or combination with a specific meaning in its jurisdiction. The meaning of the words, however, is not directly related to the goods or services the company offers. For example, while “Apple” may indicate a technology company, the name does not reflect their products or services.
Although the name may not reference any specific goods or services, this type of trademark is still valid in the eyes of the law.
Here is an article with more information on types of trademarks and their strengths.
How Long Does It Take to Review a Trademark?
The typical trademark review period lasts 12 to 18 months. The procedure is a lengthy process that involves an extensive application review. The USPTO Trademark Office takes approximately 4 to 6 months to review the initial application.
After the initial review, the trademark review moves on to the next stage. The exact timeline for trademark registration depends on the filing type of your application.
Here is an article with a guide to the USPTO trademark application review process.
Pros and Cons of Getting a Trademark
Because it is an expensive and lengthy process, you might consider whether filing for a trademark is necessary for your situation. Below are some of the pros and cons of registering a trademark.
- Exclusive Rights for Use
When you trademark a name or logo, you become the sole legal owner of that entity. This grants an exclusive business right to use its trademarked assets in business. This advantage can be beneficial for companies trying to scale rapidly and want to avoid infringements and damages.
- A License to Protect Your Trademark
Trademarks come with licenses, meaning you can pursue legal action if someone infringes on your trademark. The additional legal protection can bring security to business owners and investors.
- Distinguish Your Brand
Trademarks denote exclusivity, which can help bolster a brand’s image and authority in its industry. In the future, if you want to sell your business, having a trademark can increase its value.
- Promote Your Business More Easily
Trademarked brands tend to be more recognizable and memorable than their non-trademarked competitors. Therefore, companies with a strong marketing presence wishing to become more noticeable and established in their industries can benefit from having a trademark.
You will have to pay a fee every 10 years to maintain your trademark. Keeping a trademark costs between $550 to $1,250, and some people may not find this a worthy investment. For businesses that intend to grow, however, the maintenance fee for their trademark is a fair trade-off for their trademark's exclusivity.
- You Cannot Change Your Trademark Class.
Once something is trademarked, you cannot alter its class. The class you choose influences how much legal protection you receive. Hence, it is important to carefully research and determine the most appropriate class for your business.
- Protection Limitations
While having a trademark does offer legal benefits, it does not cover every circumstance. For example, the trademark does not protect your goods or services legally. In addition, it does not replace copyrights or additional protection for intellectual property.
Here is an article about what it takes to register a trademark in the United States.
What Do Trademark Examiners Look For?
Trademark examiners similarities between the proposed trademark and existing registered trademarks. Suppose there are potentially conflicting similarities between appearance, sound, or connotation.
They also look for signs of trademark infringement, which is when someone tries to trademark something already licensed to another business. They also verify that there are no signs of copyright infringement.
Another aspect of the trademark review process is evaluating distinctiveness. A trademark that is overly generic or too generalized will not be approved. The intent is to ensure that the applicant’s trademark distinguishes their goods or services from others in their industry.
Here is an article on what makes a good trademark for a brand.
How Much Does It Cost to Review a Trademark?
Filing application fees vary depending on trademark class. For example, TEAS plus applications cost $250 per class of goods or services, and TEAS standard costs $350 per class.
You will also have to pay maintenance fees every 10 years to keep your trademark.
Here is an article with trademark costs by state in 2022.
What Type of Lawyers Review Trademarks?
An examining attorney reviews trademarks. They review all trademark applications and conduct thorough reviews. Each applicant is assigned a trademark examining attorney whom they can correspond with during review.
Here is an article examining attorneys, their qualifications, and their role in the USPTO.
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