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Need help with a Trademark?
Trademarks are a great way to protect the essence of what makes your company special. A trademark is a great way to ensure that your company’s brand elements remain yours for exclusive use, from design elements to slogans. You may want to consider registering your trademarks to receive additional legal rights as well.
Below, we’ve detailed what business owners should know about trademarks and intellection property protection:
What is a Trademark?
Trademarks are a form of intellectual property protection for brands. They signify that a company protected its recognizable signs, designs, or expressions. Business owners can denote trademarks with the TM symbol, or ™, on product and service marks.
Here is an article that defines trademarks.
Purpose of a Trademark
The purpose of a trademark is to prevent competitors from infringing upon your company’s trade dress . Trade dress is the portfolio of brand elements that make your company unique, including logos, slogans, and more. Registered trademarks offer additional legal protection by giving you the authority to file claims against infringers.
Trademark vs. Copyright
A trademark protects items that distinguish one business from another, whereas a copyright protects original work. Affixing a trademark symbol to the element creates a trademark. On the other hand, you receive copyright protection upon creation.
Trademark vs. Patent
Patents allow inventors to protect new ideas or prevent others from commercially exploiting those ideas without permission. On the other hand, Trademarks are unconcerned with how new inventions work. Instead, trademarks would protect the branding and trade dress if a business commercially sold the invention.
Here is an article that goes further into trademarks.
What is Trademark Registration?
Trademark registration is the formal legal process of staking a claim over a name, symbol, figure, letter, word, logo, or a combination of these. You can also include scent and sound in trademark registration. A company uses a trademark to identify its goods and services from others.
Registering a trademark is essential to asserting your foothold over your brand and associated design elements. This action supports a long-term brand strategy.
What is a Trademark Search?
A trademark search tells brand owners whether they have the right to use their intended mark. Brand owners can use a trademark search to determine if they can register a mark.
Companies may have to adjust their brand strategy accordingly based on the results of a trademark search. Before using a trademark commercially, conducting a trademark search is critical for developing a successful brand strategy and can save owners time and money in the long run.
Here is another article also about trademarks and searches.
How To File a Trademark
A trademark is a way to prevent other companies from using your brand name or logos when selling products or services. Consumers can also quickly recognize a product or service as belonging to a specific company.
It’s important to remember that a trademark can protect not everything. You can’t trademark generic words or phrases, for example, unless rarely used.
Furthermore, you cannot trademark anything that already has a trademark. Trademarks can last indefinitely if you continue to use them, file documents, and pay fees every ten years or so.
Below, we’ve outlined the seven steps for how to file a trademark:
Step 1. Prep Your Trademark Application
You’ll need to know if your trademark can be registered before you apply. Check the database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for assurance.
Get started by heading to the USPTO application website. Then go to print the forms you’ll need for your trademark application . While you can submit your application digitally, having a physical copy ensures that you comply with the rules of evidence.
A physical copy is also helpful in case a dispute arises.
You may want to hire a trademark lawyer at this point to assist you with the process. While residents of the United States are not required to hire an attorney, it is strongly recommended due to the various legal complexities. Making legal mistakes can end up costing you far more than the application itself, so legal representation is a worthy investment.
Step 2. Ensure Your Application Is In Compliance With Trademark Law
Once you’ve collected all of your forms and are ready to submit, ensure that your application complies with all legal requirements. Trademark law is vast and complicated, even for a relatively simple designation. You could also miss nuances and rules, so legal help is always vital to the best possible outcome.
For example, your trademark must be:
- Federally registerable
- Filed properly
Also, keep in mind that you must comply with all deadlines because this is a legal proceeding. You could also run your documentation by trademark application lawyers to support an approval.
Image via Pexels by Miguel Á
Step 3. Work with the USPTO Examining Attorney
After you’ve submitted your application, you’ll need to keep an eye on its progress. This strategy will inform you of your next steps and deadlines of importance.
The application is sent to a USPTO examining attorney when moving your application forward. This individual will look over your application, look for any conflicts, and see if you followed all applicable rules and statutes.
The attorney may deny your application in some matters. If that’s the case, they’ll send you a letter explaining why and what you need to do to fix it. You must respond quickly if this occurs to ensure the best possible outcome for your situation.
Step 4. Receive Approval or Rejection
After application review, the USPTO inform you of their decision. The decision is either an approval or denial.
If your trademark is approved, they will publish it in the “Official Gazette,” a weekly publication of the USPTO. This publication allows aggrieved parties to respond and file an opposition. You’ll also have to endure a separate legal process if this happens to you.
If everything goes well, the USPTO will issue you a certificate of registration.
Step 5. Defend Your Legal Rights
Many people mistakenly believe that the process is complete once you have the certificate in your hands. Unfortunately, that’s not the case yet.
To keep the registration active, you’ll need to keep filing specific maintenance documents. If you don’t keep up with your trademark, it will be canceled or expire. When this situation arises, you’ll have to reapply for protection.
Step 6. Add the TM Symbol for Enhanced IP Protection
The final step is to add the TM symbol to your trademarks. This designation lets competitors and the general public know not to use your works. You don’t have to add the symbol to invoke protections, but you need to give infringers a chance to remove content if you choose not to use it.
Step 7. Speak with a Litigation Attorney If You Discover Infringement
It’s a good idea to build a relationship with a lawyer if someone infringes upon your legal rights. They have processes and technologies that help clients discover instances of infringement. Your attorney can also act quickly when finding wrongdoings.
Get Legal Help with Trademarks
Register your trademarks with the USPTO for the greatest possible protection if you want to protect your company’s brand. Trademark lawyers can assist you in this capacity. They can also help you safeguard other IP rights, such as copyrights and patents.
Post a project in ContractsCounsel’s marketplace to get started on your Trademark Application. All lawyers are vetted by our team and peer reviewed by our customers for you to explore before hiring.
Meet some of our Trademark Lawyers
I enjoy helping businesses of all sizes succeed, from start-ups to existing small and medium sized businesses. I regularly advise corporate clients on a variety of legal issues including formation, day to day governance, reviewing and drafting business contracts and other agreements, business acquisitions and sales, as well as commercial and residential real estate issues, including sales, purchases and leases. As an attorney licensed in both Michigan and Florida, I also advise clients on real estate issues affecting businesses and individuals owning real property in either state, whether commercial, residential or vacation/investment property. I also regularly assist nonprofit organizations in obtaining and maintaining tax exempt status, and provide general legal counsel on all matters affecting public charities, private foundations and other nonprofit organizations.
Pura Rodriguez, JD, MBA is the President and Managing Partner of A Physician’s Firm, based in Miami. She represents healthcare providers from different specialties in a broad range of issues, including contract review, business planning and transactions, mergers and acquisitions, vendor and contract disputes, risk management, fraud and abuse compliance (Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark), HIPAA compliance, medical staff credentialing, employment law, and federal and state regulations. She also assists providers in planning their estates, protecting their assets, and work visa requirements.
Jaclyn is an experienced intellectual property and transactional attorney residing and working in NYC, and serving clients throughout the United States and internationally. She brings a targeted breadth of knowledge in intellectual property law, having years of experience working within the media, theater, PR and communications industries, and having represented clients in the music, entertainment, fashion, event production, digital media, tech, food/beverage, consumer goods, and beauty industries. She is an expert in trademark, copyright, and complex media and entertainment law matters. Jaclyn also taught as an Adjunct Professor at Cardozo School of Law, having developed and instructed the school’s first Trademark Practicum course for international students. In her spare time, Jaclyn’s passion for theater and love for NYC keeps her exploring the boundless creativity in the world’s greatest city!
A bilingual attorney graduated from J.D. with a C.P.A. license, an M.B.A. degree, and nearly ten years of experience in the cross-border tax field.
Experienced and business-oriented attorney with a great depth of contract experience including vendor contracts, service contracts, employment, licenses, operating agreements and other corporate compliance documents.
With over 21 years of practice, Chet uses his vast experiences to assist his clients in the most efficient manner possible. Chet is a magna cum laude graduate of University of Miami School of Law with an extensive background in Business Law, Commercial Real Estate, Corporate Law, Leasing Law and Telecommunications Law. Chet's prior experience includes 5 years at two of the top law firms in Georgia and 16 years of operating his own private practice.
Steve Clark has been practicing law in DFW since 1980. He is licensed in both Texas and Louisiana state and federal courts. He concentrates his practice on business clients and their needs. He has been a SuperLawyer in Texas since 2011, and is Lead Counsel rated in Business Law. He is also a Bet the Company litigator in Texas.