Need to know how to submit a trademark? The first step when registering a trademark is to complete a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The application may be filed by submitting a paper application, through an online trademark filing service, or online using the TEAS forms.

Preparing a Trademark Application

A trademark application should contain the following information:

  • Owner and contact information: An individual person or a business may own the trademark. Contact information should include a mailing address, email address, fax number, and any other relevant contact information.
  • Type of mark: Marks come in three types of formats, including:
    • Sound marks: Examples of a sound mark include the lion's roar for MGM, the three-note chime for NBC, or Intel's sequence to identify its processor.
    • Special character marks: This should be used when the mark has uniquely designed numbers, letters, or words. Examples of this are Coca-Cola's unique font, Apple's apple symbol, and Nike's swoosh.
    • Standard character marks: This should be used to register letters, numbers, words, or a combination thereof, without any specific formatting or font. Standard character formats allow the owner to use the trademark in any design or style.
  • Specimen and picture: A specimen and drawing of the mark should be submitted with the trademark application.

The drawing of the mark should visually depict what the mark looks like on its own, not attached to any other item and without anything else near it. When applying for a standard character trademark, the drawing will consist of typed numbers, letters, or punctuation. When applying for a special character trademark, the drawing will consist of a picture (.jpg) identifying the mark. When applying for a sound mark, the audio or video file must be submitted in one of the following formats: .avi, .mpg, .mp3, .wma, .wmv, or .wav. The file may not exceed 30 megabytes for video files or five megabytes in size for audio files.

A specimen of the mark will identify how the mark is used in connection with the service or good. For example, a picture of a label attached to a t-shirt might be submitted. A service mark may submit advertising materials or a marketing brochure identifying the mark. If an audio or video file is used to brand the product or service, the file containing the sound or visualization needs to be submitted.

Identifying Your Goods or Services

The product or service associated with the mark must be meticulously identified. If a mistake is made during submission, there's no way to change or add additional products or services later. Make sure to only identify products or services that are currently using the mark or ones in which you're planning on using in the near future. The trademark application should clearly identify whether the mark is used for a service or a good/product. A "good" is considered a product that is sold, while a "service" is considered an activity that is performed for other individuals or businesses.

The application should also describe the good or service. Acceptable descriptions are identified in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) trademark manual of acceptable identifications of goods and services. All descriptions that are found within the manual should be used. Otherwise, the good or service should be described as accurately as possible. The manual is located on the USPTO website.

What Is the Statement of Use?

In cases where the trademark is filed on an intent-to-use basis, the statement of use must be submitted to the USPTO before the trademark is officially registered. A statement of use is a sworn declaration that the trademark is being used commercially in connection with the services and/or products identified in the trademark application. The USPTO will require the applicant to:

  • Submit a specimen displaying the trademark in use.
  • Identify the initial date that the trademark was used in interstate commerce.
  • Identify the initial date that the trademark was used within the United States.

The statement of use is typically filed subsequent to the USPTO issuing the notice of allowance, which is an official notification that the 30-day trademark opposition period has ended and that the trademark application has been accepted by the USPTO. In cases where you're unable to use the trademark within the first six months, an additional six months may be obtained by filing a request for an extension.

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