How to Register and Protect Your Trademarks
Why to register your trademarks and how to protect them
Registration is Essential to Protecting Your Good Name and ReputationProtecting your business's intellectual property is a task best handled by a knowledgeable and experienced trademark law firm. A trademark (sometimes referred to as a service mark) includes any word, sign, symbol, or device that is used by one business to distinguish its goods and/or services from another business. Registering your trademark is essential to protecting your company's good name and reputation. The application process to obtain trademark protection can be lengthy and confusing. A trademark attorney can help you through the application process and obtain trademark protection more quickly.
Overview of Trademark Application ProcessNot every sign or symbol is eligible for trademark protection. Once you have selected a sign, symbol, or other "mark" that does qualify for protection, however, and that mark is not substantially similar to another mark already registered, the following steps must be completed:
oPreparing and submitting the application: The process for obtaining trademark protection officially begins when the mark owner files an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application will include information about the mark itself (its format and design) as well as the goods and/or services to which it corresponds (for example, the trademark for Apple computers - the apple with a "bite" out of the right side - corresponds to a particular type of computing devices). This application and the requisite filing fees are submitted for approval to the USPTO.
oReview by a USPTO attorney: Once it is determined that the application meets minimum requirements, a USPTO attorney will review your application and proposed mark more closely. Of particular concern to the USPTO attorney will be whether your mark is substantially similar to an existing mark. If there is a substantial reason why your mark should not be registered, the attorney may send a letter explaining the problem. You would then have a limited amount of time to remedy the problem or else your application will be considered to be abandoned.
oPublication of mark: If the mark is approved, it will be published in the "Official Gazette". Individuals who believe their own mark or business will be harmed by the registration have a 30-day window from the date of first publication to object to the registration of the mark. If there is no opposition (or if the opposition is unsuccessful in challenging the registration), the mark will be registered. It then falls to the mark's owner to maintain the registration and take action against those he or she believes are infringing on the trademark.
This article was originally published on JGPC.com.