Federal Trademark Registration

The Trade Mark News

Trademarks are an important tool for protecting your company’s reputation and making sure imposters aren’t trading off the success and goodwill of your business. You can apply to register a trademark to protect any word, name, symbol or device if it’s unique and used to distinguish your goods from those of another seller or service provider. Having a brand name or logo that uniquely identifies your goods or services is what’s important here. If your brand name is one that is commonly used in your industry, it’s unlikely that you will be able to register your mark. When deciding upon a name and/or logo for your company, your first step should be to perform a trademark search to see if anyone else is already using your proposed name/logo in a industry similar to the one you are looking to enter. You can do this by visiting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website and searching their database of registered trademarks.

Trademark applications can be tricky and it’s always advisable to have an experienced trademark attorney file your applications for you. Ensuring that a trademark search has been thoroughly carried out and that your trademark is registered for all potential goods and services you intend to use it for is crucial. This early expense can save you from serious headaches down the line not to mention expensive legal fees. If you choose to file the application yourself, the easiest way to do so is to use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s online application process.  The Office’s website includes comprehensive instructions for completing the application along with helpful instructional videos covering basic information about trademarks, common mistakes and issues that arise when filing applications.

Even before you receive a federal trademark, you can alert others to the fact that you are claiming rights to your brand’s mark by using the symbol ™ directly after the mark whenever you use it. Once your trademark is approved and registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, you should always use the ® symbol directly following your mark any time you use it in connection with the goods or services listed in your federal trademark registration.

If you plan on operating your small business solely in a particular local market, and have no intention of expanding to other regions, you may find that state registration of your trademark is all the protection you need. State registration is usually cheaper and faster than federal registration but obviously, will only offer you protection against other businesses or individuals in your state. You can find the specific requirements for your state at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website.

Image by Flickr user DoubleM2 (Creative Commons)

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