WHAT IS A TRADEMARK?
A trademark can be any combination of a word, phrase, or symbol (such as a picture or drawing, (like a logo) that connects a product or service with the maker of the product or service.
WHAT DOES A TRADEMARK PROTECT?
A trademark protects the word, phrase, or symbol that identifies a product or service with the maker of the product or service, within the class that your product or service is registered in.
For example, if you register your mark for t-shirts, your mark is protected for its use on t-shirts. Trademarks protect not only the word, phrase, or symbol that is registered, but one of the ultimate goals of trademark protection is to protect the public.
The phrase “likelihood of confusion” is used in trademark law to ask if a trademark is likely to cause confusion for the public. If your mark could be confused for someone else’s, then you may risk not being able to use your mark. An owner does not want counterfeit (and possibly inferior) product(s) associated with their (likely superior) product(s).
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A TRADEMARK?
The biggest requirement for a trademark is use in commerce. That means that you must use the mark in the marketplace, and someone should be paying for your product or service. Using the mark in the marketplace stops trademark trolls from filing a mark solely to prevent others from using it.
You also can not use someone else’s mark, or you risk causing confusion in the marketplace. If you do not use your mark in the marketplace, then you risk losing it!
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO REGISTER A TRADEMARK?
It will take at a minimum, 6 months to register a trademark from the date of the application, provided that there are no issues.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ™ AND ® SYMBOL?
The ™ symbol means the mark is being used in commerce, but it may not be registered. It could also mean that a mark is registered on the state level. It could also mean that a federal or state registration is pending.
The ® symbol means that a trademark has been filed and registered at the federal level.
WHY SHOULD I REGISTER MY MARK?
Registering your mark on the federal level places others on notice that your mark is being used for your product or service. This means that others can not use your mark. A successful registration will allow you brand yourself and expand your business.
HOW DO I REGISTER MY MARK?
You register a trademark by going through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) registration process. If you seek to sell your product nationally, expand your business, or start branding, registering a trademark may be the right move for you.
Consider hiring a trademark attorney as the USPTO suggests, to help you do the research, and find the appropriate classes for your products.
HOW MUCH DOES REGISTERING A TRADEMARK COST?
Registering a trademark can cost anywhere from $250 (was $225 per class) to $350 (was $275 per class) per class , meaning that if you register your mark for t-shirts (class 1) and for software (class 2), you will pay the application fee two times. The application fee is a separate fee from the attorney’s fee. The new trademark fees went into effect January 2, 2021.
This is some of how trademark law works. I hope that this was helpful to you. If you need any help, please feel free to reach out to me.