A company uses a trademark to protect its intellectual property. It can be for entities such as its name, Internet domain name, slogans, graphic characters and periodical titles. The company’s products and services may be trademarked as well.
A trademark does not necessarily have to be federally registered in order to have a measure of protection. If it does not have federal registration a trademark might be protected under the state law or the common law of a particular state.
However, if the trademark owner wants to use the mark in commerce nationwide then it’s in his or her best interest to acquire federal trademark registration.
The federal law that governs the federal registration of trademarks registered with the PTO (Patent and Trademark Office) is the Lanham Act. Once a trademark is federally registered the ® registration symbol should be displayed. It should never be displayed if a trademark is not federally registered.
There is a simple six-step process involved in for federal trademark registration.
1. The Preparation and Filing of a Trademark Application
i. An attorney should identify the trademark, perform a formal search, and author an opinion.
ii. The products and/or services are identified along with their International Classes.
iii. The trademark owner is identified.
iv. Scans are prepared.
v. The registration application is prepared and filed
vi. The client is advised of the filing particulars
2. The Application is Examined by a USPTO Trademark Examiner
i. The examiner may raise relatively minor issues, serious technical objections, or refuse to register the mark ii. Steps must be taken to correct any problem that is asked on the type of “Office Action” that is issued.
3. The Trademark is Published for the Opposition
i. The registration application is published in order to offer third parties the opportunity to oppose the registration. Only a very small percentage of applications are opposed.
4. The Trademark is Issued
After you successfully register a trademark you still must renew it periodically.
As of November 16, 1989, a trademark’s initial term of federal registration was reduced from twenty years to ten years. However, if the mark is being used in interstate commerce then it can be renewed every ten years for an indefinite period of time.
The process of federal trademark registration can be made simple with the help of an attorney who specializes in such work.
Do not be surprised if, after interviewing a local attorney that you will find that it will cost your company at least several thousand dollars to have the attorney take the process from the beginning through the end.
Luckily there are a number of companies on the Internet that charge a fraction of this amount for federal trademark registration.