Registered Trademark

The first step in getting a registered trademark is to visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website to make sure someone else doesn’t already have your trademark registered. To do this, check the Trademark Electronic Search System database. Note, that someone cannot just add a domain extension to an already-registered trademark in hopes of registering the similar name. If a trademark is already registered, it is no longer available, and your application will be rejected. If it is too similar to a registered trademark, it may also be rejected.

Registering your trademark can take less than 90 minutes, and many businesses are capable of doing it themselves. It can cost anywhere between $275 and $325. An applicant must have the following information handy when applying:

  • Categories of goods or services
  • Date of trademark’s first use in business
  • Design (if applicable)

The response time can usually take up to six months from the filing date.

It is a good idea to register your trademark because it will be protected in the geographic area where it will be used. In order to gain the broadest protection, an applicant shouldn’t register a detailed design.

Registering Your Trademark: How the Process Works

Not to be confused with a copyright or patent, an applicant must file the correct trademark application. A trademark can be anything from a design, logo, sound or expression that will become a symbol for a business or product. While not required, an applicant may want to consider hiring an attorney to help with the process of registering a trademark.

There are generally two reasons why a business might want to consider registering a trademark.

The first reason is that the business has already used the unregistered trademark in conducting its business, and now wants to officially register that trademark. For this option, the business must show that it had previously used the trademark.

Another reason is that the business has a product that is ready to go to market and wants to register it as a trademark beforehand. This is called intent to use.

Once an application has been filled out and all deadlines have been met, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will register the trademark and issue the business its certification within three months. If a business has filed an intent to use, the U.S. PTO will grant a notice of allowance, which means that the business must use the trademark in commerce within that period, or else request an extension.

Applying for Federal Registration

Deciding if the company should register the mark in the first place is the first step in the process of the trademark registration. The most important benefit of registering the trademark is that the business can file a lawsuit against anyone who uses the trademark without the business' permission, including counterfeits.

Maintaining Federal Trademark Registration

In order to maintain your trademark registration, the business must follow a number of steps after the application gets approved.

State Level vs. Federal Level Registration of Trademark

In the U.S., the person has the option to register the trademark at either state or federal level.

A state registered trademark can only protect the mark from infringement within that state while the federally registered trademark gives protection across the entire country, yet is only available if the business is done with the other states or internationally.

When the mark is state-registered, the mark is protected within the state lines, is available when business is done within the state, does not offer protection in other states and does not help register in other states. The mark that is federally-registered is being protected throughout the U.S. and gives a presumption of the mark's ownership.

If you need help in registering 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, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.