Trademark Filing: Everything You Need to Know
Trademark filing is the process in which an individual or company applies to prevent other entities from copying their brand design.3 min read
Trademark filing is the process in which an individual or company applies to prevent other entities from copying their brand design. In order to prevent trademark theft, the item needs to be registered with the federal government.
If not properly protected, the design can be replicated by other individuals or companies without permission or payment to the original owner. A trademark covers various types of elements that are used for brand recognition including:
However, not just any item can be trademarked. According to the government, it must be distinctive and set the brand apart such as a logo.
How to File a Trademark?
In order to protect the distinguishing feature from replication, a person or organization must apply for a trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Verifying Uniqueness: The first step in the trademark filing process is to make sure that no one else has already trademarked your design. Begin by searching the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). You will also need to check your state’s database if possible, and it’s also a good idea to perform an internet search for like items.
Verifying uniqueness is an important step of the process because the USPTO is very particular on what they will and won’t approve. If they believe the item is too closely related to another brand or design on the market, they won’t provide a trademark because of the possible confusion it would cause to consumers.
You can avoid a denial by choosing a strong, distinctive mark. For example, a mashup of two words that relate to the product or focus of the brand is unlikely to exist in the same format. If you’re trying to trademark a shape or logo design, opt for an uncommon element that’s not frequently used in everyday life.
Generic identifiers typically won’t make it through the approval process. A commonly used word like ‘cars’ can’t be chosen to signify a car lot or brand because it’s already used on a daily basis as a descriptor for a variety of companies. Such a choice would be impossible to enforce, so the USPTO is likely to reject it.
If you think your design meets the above guidelines, it doesn’t guarantee an automatic approval. There are other restrictions that limit the POT’s ability to approve a design including:
- An individual’s name or likeness
- It’s offensive
- A geographic description is used
- Generic non-English term
- Exists as a movie or novel title
If your element falls into any of these categories, it most likely won’t pass the test. It doesn’t mean that you can’t use it as a brand signifier, but you won’t have any legal power over copycats.
One of the most common ways to ensure that the mark is original and meets all the requirements is to hire a trademark lawyer. The attorney will take care of all the in-depth research as well as the application and maintenance processes required by the PTO.
Trademark Filing: When you’re positive that your distinguishing mark meets the requirements, it’s time to apply for a trademark using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). The PTO also allows traditional printed applications that can be printed, filled out, and mailed to the organization.
The process is straightforward, but it does require extensive information. You will need to provide contact information including name, address, and phone number. This information is particularly important because the POT will utilize it to ask any questions that they have during the application process. Some other requirements include:
- A replica of the mark, either in the form of a drawing or image
- Image of goods with the design present, if applicable
- Classification of the type of items that will be attached to the mark
- Explanation as to why a trademark is needed by the individual or company
Once all of the information is inputted, and the form is completely filled out, you simply need to sign it.
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