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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. Trademarks protect distinctive elements that identify the source of goods or services. They signify that a company protected its recognizable signs, designs, or expressions. Business owners can denote unregistered trademarks with the TM symbol, or ™, on product and service marks, and registered trademarks with the R symbol, or ®.

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, including original works of authorship and not just business-related content. 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. However, trademarks do not protect the underlying invention itself. To protect your intellectual property for an invention you need a patent.

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.

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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 in commerce, file the appropriate documents, and pay fees every ten years.

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
  • Identifiable
  • 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.

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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.

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Ryenne S. on ContractsCounsel
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4.9 (369)
Member Since:
October 11, 2022

Ryenne S.

Principal Attorney
Free Consultation
Chicago, IL
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
DePaul University College of Law

My name is Ryenne Shaw and I help business owners build businesses that operate as assets instead of liabilities, increase in value over time and build wealth. My areas of expertise include corporate formation and business structure, contract law, employment/labor law, business risk and compliance and intellectual property. I also serve as outside general counsel to several businesses across various industries nationally. I spent most of my early legal career assisting C.E.O.s, General Counsel, and in-house legal counsel of both large and smaller corporations in minimizing liability, protecting business assets and maximizing profits. While working with many of these entities, I realized that smaller entities are often underserved. I saw that smaller business owners weren’t receiving the same level of legal support larger corporations relied upon to grow and sustain. I knew this was a major contributor to the ceiling that most small businesses hit before they’ve even scratched the surface of their potential. And I knew at that moment that all of this lack of knowledge and support was creating a huge wealth gap. After over ten years of legal experience, I started my law firm to provide the legal support small to mid-sized business owners and entrepreneurs need to grow and protect their brands, businesses, and assets. I have a passion for helping small to mid-sized businesses and startups grow into wealth-building assets by leveraging the same legal strategies large corporations have used for years to create real wealth. I enjoy connecting with my clients, learning about their visions and identifying ways to protect and maximize the reach, value and impact of their businesses. I am a strong legal writer with extensive litigation experience, including both federal and state (and administratively), which brings another element to every contract I prepare and the overall counsel and value I provide. Some of my recent projects include: - Negotiating & Drafting Commercial Lease Agreements - Drafting Trademark Licensing Agreements - Drafting Ambassador and Influencer Agreements - Drafting Collaboration Agreements - Drafting Service Agreements for service-providers, coaches and consultants - Drafting Master Service Agreements and SOWs - Drafting Terms of Service and Privacy Policies - Preparing policies and procedures for businesses in highly regulated industries - Drafting Employee Handbooks, Standard Operations and Procedures (SOPs) manuals, employment agreements - Creating Employer-employee infrastructure to ensure business compliance with employment and labor laws - Drafting Independent Contractor Agreements and Non-Disclosure/Non-Competition/Non-Solicitation Agreements - Conducting Federal Trademark Searches and filing trademark applications - Preparing Trademark Opinion Letters after conducting appropriate legal research - Drafting Letters of Opinion for Small Business Loans - Drafting and Responding to Cease and Desist Letters I service clients throughout the United States across a broad range of industries.

Matt B. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
September 8, 2023

Matt B.

Free Consultation
Coral Gables, FLorida
24 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL, NY
University of Miami School of Law (JD)

Matt practices law in the areas of commercial finance, contract law, business & corporate law, and residential and commercial real estate (with a particular emphasis on retail shopping centers and office buildings). He has extensive experience in negotiating and structuring complex commercial loan, asset acquisition, asset disposition, leasing and real estate transactions. Matt additionally works on various general matters for clients such as forming LLCs and corporations, preparing various LLC and corporation documents and drafting and reviewing various types of contracts and agreements for clients and providing advice regarding same. Matt provides clients with extensive and timely communication on their matters and ensures that his clients are well represented and highly satisfied with their legal representation and the work product provided. Matt offers all potential clients a free initial consultation to discuss their legal matters prior to engaging his firm to represent them. Prior to opening his law firm Matt worked for many years in the New York City office of a large international law firm where he counseled large multi-national businesses, financial institutions, investment groups and individuals on highly sophisticated business, financial and real estate transactions. Matt provides his clients with diligent legal representation on their matters with a very personal approach.

Jesse A. on ContractsCounsel
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Jesse A.

Free Consultation
Kingsford, Michigan
13 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MI, WI
University of Illinois-Chicago

General practice attorney with experience in civil litigation, family law, criminal law, estate planning, business formation, real estate and business transactions.

Benjamin M. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
August 1, 2023

Benjamin M.

IP Attorney
Free Consultation
Atlanta, Georgia
3 Yrs Experience
Licensed in GA
Michigan State University

To begin his legal career, Ben was a legal fellow with Georgia Lawyers for the Arts. Ben also assisted Michigan State University in protecting its registered intellectual property as lead intellectual property (IP) intern for Michigan State University's Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection (A-CAPP Center). During this time, Ben organized and moderated a panel discussion with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents for A-CAPP's annual Brand Protection Strategy Summit. Ben was selected to join a team of law student interns in Lovran, Primorje-Gorski Kotar, Croatia, to handle matters involving cybercrime, international copyright, the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy and the General Data Protection Regulation. Before studying law, Ben worked for Core Security and Meridian Link as a software QA engineer. As a member of Million Dollar Minds Entertainment (Est. 2006) Ben produced countless commercial music recordings, engineered hundreds of songs, and served as executive producer seven studio albums. Ben enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is an alumnus of The South Carolina State University and Michigan State University College of Law.

Joeie S. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
July 31, 2023

Joeie S.

Managing Member, The Skelly Law Firm
Free Consultation
Cape Coral, FL
2 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
Western Michigan University Thomas Cooley Law School

Attorney Skelly is a midwestern transplant from Iowa. She has been in Florida for the past 11 years. She went to undergrad at Buena Vista University, which is a small liberal arts college in Storm Lake, Iowa. After graduating with her Bachelor's degree in criminal justice, she went on to obtain her Master's degree in criminal justice from Kaplan university, which is now Purdue Global. While attending school full time for her Master’s degree, Attorney Skelly worked full time in social services helping children and their families who were involved in the dependency system. Attorney Skelly has a professional background in child welfare and social services having worked for 18 years in the field. Attorney Skelly always had a lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer and decided to fulfill her goal in May of 2019 by starting law school at Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School at their Riverview campus. She did their accelerated program and completed law school in just over two years and graduated magna cum laude with honors. Attorney Skelly also received certificate of merit awards, which means attaining the highest grade in the class in secured transactions, research and writing, and family violence practice. While in law school Attorney Skelly was a teaching assistant to two tenured professors as well as a note taker for those students who had accommodations. She was also awarded the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Student Award. In her legal career, Attorney Skelly started out at the State Attorney’s Office in Fort Myers, FL. She helped prosecute several cases and personally worked as second chair on 9 jury trials and one bench trial. Once Attorney Skelly passed the bar, she worked for a family law firm under a board certified marital and family law practitioner where she gained tremendous knowledge in the area of family law which includes divorce, paternity, child custody/parenting plans, alimony and child support as well as domestic relations issues such as domestic violence injunctions. Attorney Skelly is also certified as a Guardian ad Litem and can serve as a Guardian ad Litem in family court cases. Attorney Skelly is a proud member of the Florida Bar, the Lee County Bar Association, and the American Bar Association.

Daniel W. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
July 31, 2023

Daniel W.

Principal Attorney
Free Consultation
Gallup, New Mexico
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in ID, NM, WA
Seattle University School of Law

In my thirteen years of practice, I've had the opportunity to argue cases in state, federal, and tribal courts; in subjects as diverse as gaming, land tenure, water rights, treaty rights, finance, employment, criminal defense, conflict of laws, and tort (among others). But the real value I brought my clients came through avoiding litigation, fostering relationships, and developing long-term strategies.

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Intellectual Property



Asked on Oct 22, 2021

Can I trademark the name of my software?

Can I trademark the name of my software if the same name is already trademarked in a different country/state? I am starting up a FinTech company right now and I am trying to trademark the name of my mobile app; however, after some searching, I realized that a company in the UK has already trademarked the same name. It is also a company that makes a mobile app in the FinTech industry - just in a different area of interest. Are there any suggestions for how I would go about trademarking the name of my software, or do I have to come up with a different name?

Roman V.

Answered Nov 2, 2021

Yes, it's generally possible to trademark the name of your software, as long as it is not a generic name or descriptive of the product. You should also do a clearance search to make sure no other company is using the same or similar name for similar services. I would be glad to discuss more details and help with the trademark process. Thanks.

Read 1 attorney answer>




Asked on Oct 25, 2021

I need help with a start up lawyer for a business

I plan on opening an indoor gun range in South Florida and need a lawyer with experience in this field.

Roman V.

Answered Dec 7, 2021

Hello, I'd be glad to help with the trademark registration for your new business to protect the name, logo, or slogan associated with it. I am a US licensed trademark attorney and run my own trademark practice dedicated to all aspects of trademark protection. I have worked with clients in various industries, including software, hardware, manufacturing, food/beverage, e-commerce space, professional services, and many others. I offer a flat rate package of $700 per trademark filing (plus USPTO fees which are $250-350 per class), which includes all of the below. Search fee: $350 • a trademark search and clearance report to identify any potentially similar marks that would block a USPTO application • covers USPTO database, state registries, domain databases, social media sites, and general internet search for potentially conflicting registered trademarks (live or dead), and common law mark) • also includes follow up consultation with me to review and answer questions on the report Filing legal fee: $350 • draft and file the trademark application with the USPTO • includes drafting all applicable classes (client can choose which to include) • responses to minor USPTO office actions • likelihood of confusion and descriptiveness refusals are separate fee, based on details of the office action USPTO fees: • $250/class if you choose the USPTO pre-approved class descriptions (most of the time, this covers the client's products/services • $350/class if you write your own class description for unique products/services If you have any questions about the proposal or trademark process, I would be glad to set up a free 15 minute call to answer any initial questions. Thank you for your consideration.

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ContractsCounsel User

Recent Project:
Trademark and copyright filings for new company
Location: Texas
Turnaround: Over a week
Service: Prepare & File
Doc Type: Trademark application
Number of Bids: 8
Bid Range: $550 - $3,499
User Feedback:
Dragan is fantastic - patient, accommodating, and dealt with the complex details of our situation! Would highly recommend.

ContractsCounsel User

Recent Project:
Prepare Trademark Intent to Use Application
Location: Virginia
Turnaround: Over a week
Service: Prepare & File
Doc Type: Trademark application
Number of Bids: 7
Bid Range: $650 - $2,349
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