Another question I get at every consultation is “How do I trademark?” So let me tell you the “VERY” basics.
- Create a mark, which can include a phrase, a logo, a word, and even a smell. Other items can be registered as a trademark, but that requires a longer blog.
- Research whether the mark is being used by someone else. Even if that person does not register the mark for trademark protection, it is best not to choose theirs because they may have “common-law” trademark protection. Again – that requires a longer blog.
- Determine what service or product your mark will be associated with. You can’t just simply register a catch-phrase by itself.
- Determine the date in which you first used the mark publicly. If you have not used the mark publicly – that’s OK. You can still seek registration for your mark, but you will have to show the USPTO that you are using the mark before it is registered.
- File the mark with the USPTO and pay the fees.
- An examiner will review the mark in about six months. If there are no prior-filed applications with similar marks, then your mark will be published in the Gazette for opposition.
- If all goes well, then your mark will be registered as a trademark. You will have trademark protection for 10 years (which is renewable).
- Now, if there is an issue with the mark (i.e., someone has a similar mark as yours), you will have to make amendments to the application or respond with legal arguments as to why your mark should be registered over the other similar mark.
Disclaimer: This is the very basics on how the trademark process works. Each numbered section can be very detailed and cumbersome. Please seek counsel for each step of the process. If you don’t do anything else, please at least allow an attorney to research whether your mark is a strong mark for registration. Trust me – Google searching alone is not sufficient.