How to Get a Trademark

Learning how to get a trademark can help get your company established in the public’s eye. It is anything that helps people know what products and services are related with your company. With the right trademark, everyone will remember who your company is and what it offers.

Definition of a trademark

A trademark can be anything that is used to relate a company to its services or products. Primarily used to discern one company from another, trademarks can be anything from words, symbols, phrases, and or designs. In essence, trademarks are essentially brands themselves, and can be protected from other companies or individuals that might reproduce it as their own and infringe upon its copyright. To protect a trademark, it must first be registered with the appropriate government agency.

What is a logo?

Logos are a type of trademark that primarily consist of a design that a company or individual has put on their product or material advertising their services. A logo may be a design of words or letters that represent the company. When a company simply uses letters and or words it is not considered a logo, and is instead simply thought of as a trademark.

How to get a trademark?

If you are considering getting a trademark, first ask yourself if your company actually needs a trademark. What your sort of geographic range does your company service? Is it large? Do you have a lot of competition?

While you are brainstorming what your trademark would be, you also need to see if there are any other trademarks in use that may be similar in design. You don’t want your company to be confused with another. A good system to use is the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). By using keywords, you can search the internet for other companies with similar marks that are registered with the federal government to ensure your trademark will not be confused with another company that offers the same service. If it is similar, the PTO will not register your mark to prevent confusion with the general public.

If you’re worried another trademark may be too similar to your own, but find that it is not registered, you are legally allowed to use it without consequence.

Questions to ask when comparing your trademark with another registered trademark:

  • Do they sound similar?
  • Do they have the same meaning?
  • Do they create the same impression with people?

If the answer is yes, then the marks will be considered too similar by the PTO and your request will likely be denied. It’s always best to choose a strong mark that is independent from that of another company’s.

When designing there are multiple routes you can take to ensure your trademark’s unique identity. Some people choose to create words that are suggestive, but actually don’t have a meaning (multiple drug company’s do this for their products).

Another route is to give your product an ‘arbitrary’ description, meaning one that has a meaning, but doesn’t necessarily have one directly related with the product—a prominent example would be Apple. An apple is not a computer, but is connected, conscious or otherwise, with knowledge via the tale of Adam and Eve.

Next is to simply be ‘descriptive.’ If your company makes cookies, then a unique picture of a cookie would likely advertise your company well. The drawback to going this route is that it is very difficult to register an image that can be thought of as generic.

Before you can register your trademark, you do have to make sure that: 1) your mark does not have anyone’s full name or likeness that is unrelated to your company; 2) could not be considered offensive; 3) doesn’t describe the geographical location of your services; 4) is not a translation of a foreign word that might offend; 5) is not a book or movie title.

When you’ve settled upon a trademark for your company and think it would pass through the PTO without incident, you should still ask yourself if you believe the trademark is easy to remember, easy to spell, and easy to pronounce. Next ask yourself again if it could possibly be considered offensive to another culture or specific demographic. If it’s possible it would, then it’s not worth your time to go through with the registration because there are simply too many legal consequences that could happen as a result.

It is worth your time, however, to consider hiring an attorney to help you choose a trademark. Though you can go through with the research yourself, an attorney will be able to work through the complex registration process for you, help you meet any deadlines, and help protect your trademark from outside companies.

If you need help learning more about how to get a trademark, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.