So…it’s time to protect your intellectual property and make your brand more valuable. Obtaining a trademark is critical to making sure your brand is distinguished from the endless options in our cluttered marketplace.
There are several reasons why trademarking a symbol, word, or words that represent your brand is critical to the success of your business. Trademarks:
- Are an effective communication tool, conveying your intellectual or emotional attributes about your organization
- Make it easy for consumers to find your company, as a trademark typically ensures the reliability and credibility of the organization in question
- Are a valuable asset, appreciating over time
- Are inexpensive to obtain from the United States Patent and Trademark Office
How do you obtain a trademark for your organization or brand?
Step One: Determine if a Trademark is right for your brand.
Trademarks, patents, copyrights, domain names, and business name registrations all differ, so it is important to learn whether a trademark is appropriate for you.
Step Two: Get ready to apply.
Select a Mark
Before filing a trademark/service mark application, you should consider:
- Whether the mark you want to register is registrable, and
- How difficult it will be to protect your mark based on the strength of the mark selected.
Note in this regard that the USPTO only registers marks. You, as the mark owner, are solely responsible for enforcement.
Before we go any further, we encourage you to check out this informative video series about the process: Basic Facts About Trademarks.
Choose your Mark Format
A standard character mark, a stylized/design mark, or a sound mark — each has a very distinct function. Choose wisely!
Identify your goods and/or service for which the mark will apply
This part is absolutely essential.
Search the database for any designs, brands or words that are similar to your organization’s
This clearance search is important, as you do not want to have a conflict if someone has already claimed trademark rights.
Know your filing basis
Before filing an application, you must know what your “basis” for filing is.
Consider if you need a Trademark Attorney
Because they do this for a living and can help you take the guesswork out.
Step 3: Prepare and submit your application.
File your application online and monitor for feedback.
Step 4: Work with your assigned USPTO attorney.
After the USPTO determines that you have met the minimum filing requirements, an application serial number is assigned and the application is forwarded to an examining attorney.
Step 5: Receive approval/denial of your application.
If the examining attorney raises no objections to registration, or if the applicant overcomes all objections, the examining attorney will approve the mark for publication in the “Official Gazette,” a weekly publication of the USPTO. 🙌
There are several more sub-steps to this one, so be sure to read here.
Step 6: Maintain your registration.
You are responsible for enforcing your rights if you receive a registration, because the USPTO does not “police” the use of marks.
Step 7: Throw a Trademark Party (FRA added step, obvs)!
Show off your new mark with a launch party! You’ve worked through the process and you’re now officially official, so it’s time to celebrate.
We work with clients both large and small, and we know the importance of protecting creative works and brand identity. We hope this has helped you map out the steps to trademarking so you can distinguish your business in the marketplace!