For individuals and businesses seeking to secure and protect their trademarks, a registered mark is essential. A registered mark signifies that your mark is a legally recognized symbol of your brand or company and affords you legal protection if someone else wants to use the same mark or a similar one. Unfortunately, many business owners in Chicago and around the world don’t realize the importance of registering their mark until it’s too late. To help local businesses avoid costly mistakes, here are the top five things to consider when registering a mark.

1. Create an Application

The first step in the process of registering a mark is to create an application. Depending on your specific business or brand, you may need to register your mark with federal trademark authorities, or you can even register with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. Both require a properly completed application with all required supporting documents and information, including information on the date the mark was first used in commerce.

2. Conduct a Search

Once your application is submitted, your trademark will be examined to determine whether it is eligible for registration. This is done by searching the Trademark Office’s database to ensure there is no preexisting registration for the same or a similar mark. If such a registration exists, your mark may not be granted registration until it has been changed to be sufficiently different from the preexisting mark.

3. Amend Your Mark

Even if your chosen mark passes the initial search, there are certain marks that will not be allowed for registration. Words and symbols that include offensive language or are in violation of state or federal laws are not allowed. In addition, marks that could potentially be confused with an existing registered mark may be rejected, so it may be necessary to revise your mark in order to be granted registration.

4. File a Statement of Use

If your mark is allowed to proceed, you will need to file a statement of use with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office confirming you are using the mark in commerce. This is a separate step in the process and requires additional documentation and fees.

5. Enforce Your Trademark Rights

Once your mark is registered, you must constantly monitor the marketplace to ensure that your mark is not being used in an infringing manner. If you discover someone has begun to use your mark or a confusingly similar mark without your permission, you will need to act quickly to protect your rights.

Conducting business in today’s marketplace requires constant vigilance to enforce the trademark rights that are the cornerstone of your business’s success. With the information provided in this article, you’ll be able to confidently navigate the process of registering a mark and protect it from infringement.


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