Understandably, registering a trademark has many intricacies and nuances that can be difficult for businesses to understand. Different countries and even different states have varying regulations that influence how a trademark can be registered and maintained. To help clarify the process of registering a trademark in Chicago, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a distinct symbol, phrase, or logo that is legally registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office and distinguishes one company from competitors. A trademark is part of a company’s intellectual property and can be used to prevent competitors from misusing its logo, name, or any project it has created.

What is the process for registering a trademark in Chicago?

The process of trademark registration begins with filing an application with the USPTO. After a business consults with an experienced intellectual property attorney, the business will both need to search its desired trademark for any existing marks that may be similar to its own as well as specify the type of trademarks being registered. Afterwards, the USPTO will review the application and, if approved, the trademark will appear in the USPTO’s Official Gazette for opposing parties to file an oppositional suit. Afterward, the USPTO will issue the trademark if no oppositions are filed.

What is the time frame for USPTO review of trademark application?

The time it takes for the USPTO to review a trademark application is typically five to six months from the date that the application is filed. This review timeframe can differ if an opposition is filed, or if more information is needed from the applicant.

When does a trademark expire?

A registered trademark is valid for 10 years from the date of registration and must be renewed before it expires. A renewal status can generally be checked through the USPTO’s website. When the 10-year-period ends, the trademark owners must complete a renewal application, submit the required fee, as well as a signed written declaration.

What is a trademark infringement?

When another party unlawfully uses or copies a trademark in a manner that could cause consumer confusion or lead people to believe that the product or service is somehow affiliated with the original holder of the trademark, then that party has committed a trademark infringement. A trademark holder can sue for damages, an injunction to halt any further use of the trademark, and any profits the infringing party has obtained from using the trademark.

What is a cease-and-desist letter?

A cease-and-desist letter is a warning letter that is sent to a party that is infringing upon a party’s trademark rights that informs the infringing party that the use of the trademark in question must be stopped immediately. The letter will typically specify how the infringing party must resemble its use of the trademark, such as name, logo, or slogan.