Trademark Registration Lawyer in [YOUR AREA]

A business puts a lot of time and effort creating their brand, and a trademark is a significant part of that strategy. Mistakes are often made in the trademark registration process, however, and those mistakes can lead to delays, denials, and disappointments. 

We want you to have a good working understanding of various Trademark rights and protections so that you make informed decisions for yourself or your business. Therefore, below we share some of the most common questions we receive on this issue.

**BUT, if you're ready for tailored analysis and legal guidance, contact us TODAY at 850-366-2376 and schedule a FREE Online Consultation!  Our Trademark Attorneys will explore and discuss your trademark rights with you and advise you on all the steps you need to take to protect your work and your business! 

I. Understanding Trademarks

Trademarks are one of the most common and critical ways to grow a business and build a solid, loyal customer-base. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a trademark as

any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods and services. It's how customers recognize you in the marketplace and distinguish you from your competitors. 

In order to be trademarked, the word, phrase, symbol, or design must be distinctive. It cannot be generic and must not be similar to a trademark that is already in use. 

A trademark does not have to be registered. However, registration provides more extensive rights and protections to the owner. For example, if a small business begins to grow outside of a specific geographic area, trademark registration can provide nationwide rights and protection.     

II. The Process to Register a Trademark

There are several steps that must be taken timely and properly to register a trademark. A person or entity must apply for it. Once the application is submitted, it is examined. If approved, the trademark is published. Upon publication, the trademark is officially registered and protected. Each case may vary to some extent, but generally, the below steps are a part of this process.

A. Trademark Identification and Filing Basis

The process to register a trademark is relatively straightforward. It is important, however, to ensure that the application you submit is thorough and meets the requirements. 

Your trademark must be distinctive. Researching the USPTO website, though daunting, can help you discover whether there is another trademark that is like, or similar to, the trademark you wish to register. Aside from ensuring its uniqueness, you must also:

  1. Identify if your trademark is a design mark, character mark, or sound mark; and
  2. Determine the types of services and goods to which it will apply. 

The USPTO ID Master List will help you determine acceptable identification of services and goods – these services and goods are also referred to as trademark classes. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to describe in full detail the trademark classes to which your trademark will apply because your trademark will only apply to these specific products or services and nothing else. For example, if you only apply to use the trademark for cosmetics, you cannot use it for soaps, unless you apply for the latter as well.

Next, you must determine the correct “filing basis” for your trademark. The requirements which must be met to proceed to registration depends on the chosen filing basis. There are four possible bases.

  1. Use In Commerce Basis: used when your mark is currently being used in commerce with your services and/or goods
  2. Intent-To-Use Basis: your intention is to use your mark with your services and/or goods in the near future
  3. Foreign Registration Basis: you already own a foreign registration of the same mark for the same services and/or goods in your country of origin
  4. Foreign Application Basis: also known as the foreign priority basis, this basis is used when you already own an application that was filed in a foreign country that was filed within six months of your application in the United States for the same mark and the same services and/or goods.

Our intellectual property attorney at Laborde Legal Group is well-versed in this step and can thoroughly and comprehensively make the necessary identifications and determinations, saving you time and money.

B. Trademark Application and Approval

Once you have identified your trademark and filing basis, it is time to file the application. This is best accomplished online by creating an account with USPTO. Fees to file the application can range from $250-$350 per class of services or goods. 

C. Examination Period

After submission of the application, it's a waiting game for approval. If any discrepancies or other issues are found with your application, you will receive a letter to that effect. To keep your application active, it is necessary that you reply to this letter. Again, it is here that our intellectual property will benefit you: we can help avoid issues from arising and, thus, avoid delays.

D. Approval Status and Opposition Period

Once approved or denied, you will be notified by letter. Approved applications are published in the “Trademark Official Gazette.” This newsletter is issued by the USPTO, and gives anyone that believes they may be harmed by the registration of your trademark 30 days to oppose it by filing a Notice of Opposition. 

E. Notice of Allowance and Registration

If there is no opposition to your trademark, your trademark will likely be registered within the next 3-4 months if it has a commerce filing basis. 

However, if your application is based on intent to use the trademark in commerce, your trademark will not yet be registered, but you will receive a Notice of Allowance. This notice will tell you when you must submit a Statement of Use and a specimen of how your trademark is being used in commerce. Then, upon acceptance of your Statement of Use, your trademark will be registered.  

III. Trademark Registration FAQ

Questions swirl around the trademark registration process because it can be extensive and confusing. Here, common questions often asked by first-time clients are answered so that you can be informed and make smart decisions for your business. 

1. How Long Does the Registration Process Take?

The time it takes to register a trademark varies. Typically, however, the process takes 12 to 18 months. Once the application is submitted, it takes roughly 4 to 6 months alone to review it. 

2. What is the Biggest Reason Leading to Denied Trademark Applications?

The top reason trademark applications are denied is this: they are too similar to an already-existing, registered trademark. The risk of confusion between the two trademarks means yours gets denied because the other one is already registered. Making sure to conduct a complete search is critical to a smooth process. 

3. How Can I Make a Trademark Strong?

Strong trademarks are those that do not use merely descriptive or generic words. Descriptive words like creamy, smooth, or bold are not distinctive enough. Generic words like hotel, laundry services, or tee-shirt business are not distinctive enough.

Strong trademarks are those that include fanciful, arbitrary, or suggestive trademarks:

  • Fanciful trademarks are those with made-up words, like Pepsi® and Exxon®
  • Arbitrary trademarks are those with actual words with no association of the goods or services, like Apple®
  • Suggestive trademarks are those with words suggesting the quality of the goods or services but do not state the actual good or service, like Coppertone® for suntan oil

An intellectual property lawyer can help you get creative and ensure your trademark is a strong one. This allows you to avoid a denied application and improve branding strategies.

4. Do I Need a Lawyer to Register my Trademark?

While, foreign-domiciled trademark applicants and registrants must be represented by a United States licensed attorney, it is not absolutely required for trademark applicants and registrants domiciled in the United States to be so. It is required that all applicants maintain a current domicile address in all trademark filings. 

Nevertheless, even when technically not required, any business owner and/or Trademark applicant should be represented by an attorney, The benefits of having experienced legal representation in Trademark and all Business matters cannot be understated!

**How We Can Help ---> 

Contact one of our Trademark Lawyers Today! 

Trademark registration offers protection, but you must submit a thorough, comprehensive, adequately supported application. At Laborde Legal Group, our trademark attorneys will work with you every step of the way. Our experienced and highly accessible Trademark Attorneys are dedicated to assisting you in formulating, implementing, and maintaining robust Business, Contract, Corporate, Trusts/Estate & Intellectual Property strategies for you, your family, your legacy and your business endeavors. We offer personalized legal counsel tailored to your specific business needs, ensuring comprehensive safeguarding of your valuable assets, competitive position and boundless growth potential!

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LLG is committed to answering your questions about Business Law, Trusts & Estates, Intellectual Property Law and Internet & Technology Law issues. WE OFFER A FREE CONSULTATION and we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!