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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. 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
August 22, 2020
Terry Brennan is an experienced corporate, intellectual property and emerging company transactions attorney who has been a partner at two national Wall Street law firms and a trusted corporate counsel. He focuses on providing practical, cost-efficient and creative legal advice to entrepreneurs, established enterprises and investors for business, corporate finance, intellectual property and technology transactions. As a partner at prominent law firms, Terry's work centered around financing, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, securities transactions, outsourcing and structuring of business entities to protect, license, finance and commercialize technology, manufacturing, digital media, intellectual property, entertainment and financial assets. As the General Counsel of IBAX Healthcare Systems, Terry was responsible for all legal and related business matters including health information systems licensing agreements, merger and acquisitions, product development and regulatory issues, contract administration, and litigation. Terry is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, where he was an Editor of the law review. He is active in a number of economic development, entrepreneurial accelerators, veterans and civic organizations in Florida and New York.
August 24, 2020
I'm a Washington-licensed lawyer specializing in trademark practice and with an extensive trademark education and academic background. I currently work with domestic and international businesses seeking trademark protection in the U.S. by conducting trademark searches, providing legal advice, submitting USPTO applications, and preparing responses to office actions. I'm passionate about trademark law and always looking forward to helping small and medium businesses promote their value by having a registered federal trademark. If you have questions or concerns about trademark/copyright/IP licensing and require legal advice, feel free to contact me so we can have a first chat.
August 24, 2020
I have 10 years experience providing general counsel, in the form practical and timely legal advice, under strict deadlines to individuals and various business unit stakeholders, balancing commercial needs with legal concerns at large corporations and start-ups. I am skilled at reviewing, analyzing, drafting and negotiating commercial and government contracts globally for the procurement and sale of services and goods. I also help clients ensure compliance with regulations (including data privacy), laws and contractual obligations and protect, enforce and exploit intellectual property rights and support in the development of IP strategy. I am a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US) licensed by the IAPP - International Association of Privacy Professionals.
August 25, 2020
I am the Founder and Managing Attorney of DMD Law, PA. and have 20 years' experience. I also am a business-oriented, proactive, and problem-solving corporate lawyer with in-house experience. My firm's practice focuses on ensuring the legalities of commercial transactions and contracts. I am adept at reviewing, drafting, negotiating and generally overseeing policies, procedures, handbooks, corporate documents, and contracts. I have a proven track record of leading domestic and international companies by ensuring they are functioning in complete compliance with local, federal and international law. The firm's goal is to simplify the law and provide clients with the confidence and information necessary to make their decisions.
August 18, 2020
William L Foster has been practicing law since 2006 as an attorney associate for a large litigation firm in Denver, Colorado. His experience includes drafting business contracts, organizational filings, and settlement agreements.
August 24, 2020
Mr. Pomeranz serves as the principal of Pomeranz Law PLLC, a boutique law firm representing clients across myriad industries and verticals. Before founding the firm, Mr. Pomeranz served as Senior Vice President, Legal & Compliance and General Counsel of Mortgage Connect, LP in 2017. Mr. Pomeranz also served as Counsel, Transactions for Altisource Portfolio Solutions S.A. (NASDAQ: ASPS) beginning in 2013, and was based in the company’s C-Suite in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. Mr. Pomeranz began his career with Mainline Information Systems, Inc. as an in-house attorney.
August 25, 2020
Rinky S. Parwani began her career practicing law in Beverly Hills, California handling high profile complex litigation and entertainment law matters. Later, her practice turned transactional to Lake Tahoe, California with a focus on business startups, trademarks, real estate resort development and government law. After leaving California, she also served as in-house counsel for a major lending corporation headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa as well as a Senior Vice President of Compliance for a fortune 500 mortgage operation in Dallas, Texas prior to opening Parwani Law, P.A. in Tampa, Florida. She has represented various sophisticated individual, government and corporate clients and counseled in a variety of litigation and corporate matters throughout her career. Ms. Parwani also has prior experience with state and federal consumer lending laws for unsecured credit cards, revolving credit, secured loans, retail credit, sales finance and mortgage loans. She also has served as a special magistrate and legal counsel for numerous Florida County Value Adjustment Boards. Her practice varies significantly from unique federal and state litigation cases to transactional matters. Born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, Ms. Parwani worked in private accounting for several years prior to law school. Her background includes a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate from Iowa (currently the license is inactive) and a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation (currently the designation is inactive). Ms. Parwani or the firm is currently a member of the following organizations: Hillsborough County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association, National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She is a Fellow of the American Bar Association. Ms. Parwani is a frequent volunteer for Fox Channel 13 Tampa Bay Ask-A-Lawyer. She has published an article entitled "Advising Your Client in Foreclosure" in the Stetson Law Review, Volume 41, No. 3, Spring 2012 Foreclosure Symposium Edition. She is a frequent continuing legal education speaker and has also taught bankruptcy seminars for the American Bar Association and Amstar Litigation. She was commissioned by the Governor of Kentucky as a Kentucky Colonel. In addition, she teaches Immigration Law, Bankruptcy Law and Legal Research and Writing as an adjunct faculty instructor at the Hillsborough Community College Ybor campus in the paralegal studies program.