Federally registering a trademark is an important process that can protect your company. The process of registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office can lead to many questions. Here are a few frequently asked questions regarding registering a trademark with the USPTO.
1. Question: Can my trademark be federally registered?
In order to receive federal protection for your trademark, the mark must be involved with business that takes place in more than one state. Your trademark also has to be unique. There are certain characteristics that are prohibited, but there will be more on that later.
2. Question: What if I’m not using my trademark in interstate commerce at this time?
You can apply for federal registration so long as you have a genuine intent to enter into interstate commerce. Your mark will still have to meet the necessary requirements. In addition, you will have to file an intent to use application. The ITU gives you an 18-month window to start using your trademark in interstate commerce.
3. Question: Are there any trademarks that are not eligible for federal protection?
Trademarks that fit the following criteria are not eligible for federal protection:
• Contain the U.S. flag
• Contain government insignias
• Contain the name, likeness or signature of a living person without person’s consent
• Contain the name, likeness or signature of a deceased President without widow’s consent
• Falsely suggest any connection with living or dead persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols
• Are too similar to existing, registered trademarks
• Contain deceptive, immoral or scandalous matter
There are other grounds for refusal by the USPTO. You can get more information at the USPTO website.
4. Question: What do I have to do to apply?
The application process for a federally registered trademark is pretty straightforward. However, it can take a year to several years to be processed. To apply, you must:
• Confirm as best as you can your trademark will not be rejected due to prohibited characteristics.
• File your application, which can be the Trademark Electronic Application System or TEAS PLUS by Internet or an application by mail.
• Pay the application fee, which varies from $275 to $275, depending on how and what you file.
• Understand the minimum requirements for submission via TEAS includes the applicant’s name, a name and address, a detailed drawing of the mark, a list of the goods and services the mark will be used on and the filing fee.
The more details you include, the more likely your application will be accepted. As long as you meet the minimum requirements, the process can be started.
5. Question: What happens after I apply?
After you apply, you have to wait several months for a reply. Your application will be reviewed by attorneys who will communicate with you about your application. You will be able to check on the status of your filing after you receive a receipt by visiting the USPTO site or calling 800-786-9199.
6. Question: Do I have to register my trademark with the USPTO?
You don’t have to register your trademark, but there are a lot of benefits if you do. The benefits include:
• After you register, anyone who creates a similar mark is expected to be aware of your trademark.
• After five years, you can file for incontestable status, so long as no one has contested your rights to the mark, which means no one will be able to contest your rights.
• Help of U.S. Customers to stop potential infringing products from entering the country.
• Nationwide protection of your trademark.
• Use of the ® symbol to make people aware of your trademark and denote a higher quality.
So while you don’t have to register your trademark, it is a good idea to go through the process.
7. Question: What can I do if I have more questions about the registration process?
If you have more questions, you can contact the Trademark Assistance Center at 800-786-9199.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.