Trademark registration refers to the process by which a person or company obtains exclusive rights in a logo, symbol, or mark. Trademarks can be used in connection with either the sale of goods or the providing of services. Once a mark is officially registered, it becomes a “registered trademark,” and may appear with the letters “TM” or an “R” within a circle displayed near the mark on the product.
Trademark registration is important for those seeking to prevent trademark infringement. Having a registered trademark may also increase sales for the company, as most consumers tend to trust in brand names rather than generic products.
What Is the Process for Trademark Registration?
Generally speaking, a trademark doesn’t actually need to be registered in order for a person to claim it. When it comes to trademarks, the “first-use rule” usually applies. This means that the first person to use a mark or logo for goods/services has proprietary rights in the mark.
On the other hand, the process for officially registering a trademark with the federal government begins by submitting an application for a trademark. This involves filling out and submitting a form, as well as the filing fees, which are usually around $275 for a basic application.
The form should be obtained and submitted through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). There may be other information and documents that need to be submitted, such as:
- Proof that the person is the owner and user of the mark
- The first date that the mark was used in commerce
- An image of the mark
- A “specimen,” which is a photo or document showing how the mark is used in the sale or advertising of the goods/services
Why Should I Register My Trademark?
There are several advantages to officially registering your mark under a federal or state database. These include:
- Public notice of the person’s ownership of the mark
- Nation-wide presumption of legal ownership
- Notice of exclusive rights for use of the mark in connection with goods or services
- The ability to file a lawsuit involving unauthorized use of the trademark
- The ability to file with U.S. Customs to prevent the distribution of infringing foreign imported goods
- May allow the person to file for registration in other countries, based on their U.S. registration
Thus, many people choose to register their marks to make sure that their rights are fully protected under U.S. laws.
What Does “Trademark Confusion” Mean?
When filing for trademark registration, one of the main requirements is that the mark can’t cause “confusion” over an already-existing registered trademark. This means that an application will be denied if it is likely that the public will confuse the new mark with an existing, protected mark.
In other words, an application may be denied even if the two marks aren’t exactly the same. The test is whether the public will be confused in a way that they would mistake the newer mark for the older one.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Trademark Registration?
Many people begin filing out a trademark registration packet, only to discover that they’re confused or lost among many questions that they have. You may wish to save yourself such stress and loss of resources by hiring an intellectual property lawyer at the beginning of your registration process. That way, an experienced attorney can help you with the application requirements. Or, if you are experiencing a dispute over your trademark such as infringement, your lawyer can help represent your interests in during trial.