A trademark or service mark application allows you to formally register your mark for legal protection.

Before submitting a trademark or service mark application, it's important to understand the purpose of these two legal protections. Trademarks and service marks are words, phrases, sounds, symbols, or any combination thereof that identifies your business and distinguish it from competitors. 

Trademark vs. Service Mark

The term “trademark” is often used to describe both trademarks and service marks, but it's a simple distinction. Products are goods you sell, while services are tasks you do for people. Trademarks apply to the former and service marks to the latter.

When you start your business, you'll likely have a logo to use as a trademark for your product or a service mark that identifies your services. To ensure that no one else uses your trademark or service mark, you need to register it. 

Service marks gain a common law trademark if they're used for your business, but this protection isn't as strong as registration and doesn't extend beyond your region. If someone else takes your mark, it can be difficult to prove that it's yours.

Service marks can be registered with your state, but that won't protect you if a business in another state uses your mark. 

There are several additional benefits to registering a trademark or service mark:

  • Registration is a notice of your claim of ownership.
  • Registration supports that claim if there's a dispute.
  • Existing registration helps you obtain registration in other countries.

International Classification of Goods

The term “goods” includes many different types of products, such as the following:

  • Chemicals
  • Plants, varnishes, lacquer, preservatives
  • Bleaching preparations and substances used for cleaning, laundry, scouring, abrasion, or polishing
  • Industrial oils and greases, lubricants, and substances for absorbing dust, wetting, or binding
  • Pharmaceutical, veterinary, and sanitary preparations
  • Common metals and alloys
  • Machines and machine tools; motors and engines
  • Hand tools, cutlery, side arms, and razors
  • Scientific tools and equipment
  • Surgical, medical, dental, and veterinary instruments
  • Lighting, heating, steam generating, refrigeration, and cooking apparatus
  • Vehicles
  • Firearms and munitions
  • Precious metals and alloys
  • Musical instruments
  • Paper, cardboard, and products made from them
  • Rubber, gum asbestos, mica, gutta-percha, and goods made from them
  • Leather and imitation leather, as well as goods made from them
  • Building materials
  • Furniture
  • Household utensils
  • Rope, string, nets, tents, awnings, tarpaulins, sails, sacks, and bags
  • Yarns and threads for textiles
  • Textiles and textile goods
  • Clothing, headgear, and footwear
  • Lace, embroidery, ribbons, braids, buttons, and other fasteners
  • Carpets, rugs, and other floor coverings. 
  • Games and sporting equipment
  • Meat, poultry, fish, and game
  • Coffee, tea, sugar, rice, flour, and other preparations
  • Agricultural, horticultural, and forestry products
  • Beers and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco and smoking articles
  • Advertising, business administration, business management
  • Insurance, financial, and real estate affairs
  • Building construction and repair
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation and storage; travel arrangement
  • Treat of materials
  • Education and training
  • Scientific and technological services and research
  • Food and drink services
  • Medical, veterinary, and hygiene or beauty services
  • Personal and social services

Navigation History in TEAS Plus Form

A trademark or service mark search can help you determine whether anyone else is using your service mark or trademark. If not, then you can file an application using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).

The Navigation History shows you where you are in the form. The navigation history won't allow you to move forward to a different section, but you can use it to move backward to a previous section. If you make changes to a previous section, you need to use the continue button at the bottom of the section to save your changes. If you click directly on another section, your changes won't be saved. 

Applicant Information

The TEAS Application will include the full name of the applicant, which includes the individual, corporation, partnership, or other entity that owns the mark. Keep in mind the following information:

  • If an individual owns the mark, include that person's last name, first name, middle initial or name.
  • If a joint venture's business name owns the mark, that is the applicant name.
  • If a trust owns the mark, the applicant name is “The Trustees of the [name] Trust.”
  • If an estate owns the mark, the applicant name is “The Executors of the [name] Estate.”
  • If the applicant is doing business under a different name, enter that name after a notation of “DBA.”
  • It's important to determine if a joint applicant truly is a joint relationship, and not a partnership, joint venture, or otherwise.
  • A trademark is typically filed under the name of one party unless the business has two or more active partners.
  • A true joint application will require information from each applicant. 

Much of the trademark and service mark application is simple, but if you're unsure of how to file for your particular business, consult a professional trademark attorney

If you need help filling out a trademark or service mark application, 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.