Trademark Registration: Why?
Imagine you finally started that business or launched that product line and came up with the perfect name. It’s going to be something people remember. It’s buzzed about all over social media, and you’re getting great press. You have a beautiful website, great packaging, an amazing sign – and then you get a cease and desist letter. Someone’s demanding that you stop using the name immediately, and you may need to start from scratch. Does this possibility worry you?
If changing the name is only a minor hassle for you, then it makes sense to invest in other parts of your business for now.
But if you have a word, phrase, or logo that you love, or if being forced to change the name at some point in the future would hurt your business, you should consider trademark protection.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a word, logo, brand, or phrase legally registered or established by use as representing a business.
Ready to take the first step to protect your brand? Schedule a consultation with one of our trademark attorneys.
What Does Trademark Registration Do?
If you have a name, brand, logo, or phrase associated with your business, giving it as much protection as possible will grant you some peace of mind. Some benefits of registering your trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office include:
Make sure no one else can use your mark.
Registering your trademark gives you a clear stamp of ownership from the date of filing. If anyone else wants to claim that they are the real owners, they will have to provide clear evidence.
Make sure no one can stop you from using your mark.
Fighting to protect an unregistered mark often means costly lawsuits that you can’t afford.
Protection from Theft
Once your trademark is registered, everyone can find out that you own it. This means that you can stop other people from trying to steal your mark by pointing to your registration, again avoiding drawn-out lawsuits – always a big plus!
Registering your trademark gives you clear ownership and protection, so a registered trademark can be worth a lot more than an unregistered one. This can help you get a higher amount when bringing on investors or selling your business one day.
Registering your trademark is the number one thing you can do to protect it.
Registration before you begin using your trademark will provide protection from the get-go. If you have already established your brand, a registered trademark will protect it going forward. The good news is that registering your trademark can be a fairly simple process if done correctly.
Reach out to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.
How Can I Get a Strong Trademark?
The strongest trademarks are:
A business may even want to rebrand if the trademark won’t be strong, because that means that your brand can’t grow to be the next “Apple®” or “Microsoft®”.
Two big things to look for:
Type of Mark
Does your mark do more than just describe your business? If not, it may not be registrable at all, and even if it ekes its way to registration, it won’t be very strong. Unique trademarks are stronger than generic ones, and made-up marks are the strongest of all.
First, a search. The first step to determine whether your mark is available is searching the US Patent and Trademark Office database and the web for similar words, phrases, or logos. If you have an awesome phrase in mind but it’s already in use for products or services similar to yours, even by just one person, that could keep you from registering your mark and will make it very difficult to build your brand.
Wondering whether your business name or logo is identifiable and unique enough to obtain trademark registration? We can help you with a search. Reach out to find out how.
Searching and Filing: The Process
Overall, it can take around a year to register a trademark from the time of submitting the application.
It starts with filing the initial application, which will need to include information like the owner of the trademark, what type of goods and services the trademark is connected to, and “filing basis” (your “basis”/reason for being able to register the trademark, like use in interstate commerce). Once the application is filed, it will take around 3 months to be assigned to an examiner, and usually up 1-3 months for the examiner to review the application. The examiner will then either approve the application, reach out to discuss small issues with the application, or send an “Office Action” listing significant issues with the application, in which case you have 6 months to respond. If your response isn’t to the examiner’s satisfaction, your registration is usually declined. If the application gets approved or if your response is to the examiner’s satisfaction, in a few months the application will be published for 30 days so the public can object to the mark. If there are no objections, in about a month after publication, the trademark is officially registered!
We know it looks complicated, but we’re here to help if you need us.