Are you starting your own business venture soon and will like to know the proven ways to trademark your business? Do you need to a full guide on how to trademark a name? If yes, then you’re at the right place.
This tutorial on how to trademark a name will teach you all the basic things you need to do while filling an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Hence, take your time to read and digest this piece on intellectual property as it paddle you through the ocean of a trademark, patent, business name and logo, industrial design and copyright.
What is a Trademark or Service Mark?
A trademark is also known as a brand name. It’s a mark or service mark that includes any name, symbol, word, device, or any form of combination that is used or with the intention to be used for distinguishing or identifying goods or services.
What is Patent?
A patent could be defined as a legal protection given to a new article or essential that is better or advanced in some manners than what it was made of before or say a better inventor.
An inventor has a wider right under the law to protect his invention via the trade secret or patent.
What is Copyright?
A copyright is said to be a right of action given to the owner or proprietor of a specific “work” to prevent any act that center around reprinting or reproducing such work and/or performing such work — without any kind permission of the proprietor — in public.
Copyright is always an exclusive right of owners of specific works which are due for protection under the copyright Act.
What is the differences between a trademark, patent and copyright?
These three words are types of intellectual property that seek to protect certain things that are very specific, and they’re important to this topic; how to trademark a name. Thus, the three seeks to protect something which is different from the other.
The trademark or service mark seeks to protect the brand, name, symbol or logo that is known to a particular organization from being copied or replicate in a manner that’ll convince the populace to think it’s one and same thing.
For instance, a crunched apple is the logo of all Apple products, since that logo has been trademarked, no any organization or company of the world can use that symbol again.
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The use of that symbol by any other company is in violation of the Trademark Act and at the same time infringed the trademark right of Apple.
On the other hand, a patent seek to protect an invention rather than a name, logo or brand as trademark does. It ensures that an inventor enjoys his right on his intellectual property.
While Copyright seeks to protect the right of an owner of a specific work be it a book, music, film, art, etc. It doesn’t protect a company brand nor does it protect an inventor, it’s different from the two.
How do I pick a unique trademark for my business?
A trademark is something that your business establishment will be known for till kingdom come, so it’s very important you take your time to select a unique business name before you trademark it.
There are many ways to pick a unique trademark that are federally registrable as well as legally protectable. You can consider merging your first name and last name together and then, pick the first three and the last three.
For instance, if your name is Richard Bobby, you can pick RIC from Richard and BOB from Bobby, that gives you RICBOB.
Then, you’ll search the USPTO database to see if there’s any name trademarked as that of yours, if you can’t find one, then you’re good to go. But if the name exists, you can turn the name upside down to give another name.
For instance, you can change RICBOB used above to BOBRIC or still, add something to it to spice it up. Like BOBBYRICHY. As you can see, all these names were formed from Richard Bobby.
That’s how easy and simple to select a trademark name that is unique and distinct from others.
What is the advantage of Trademark registration?
Although a trademark or business name registration is not federally mandatory, but it has many advantages if you do. And I guess you want to register it that’s why you’re reading how to trademark a name.
You may want to consider the following advantages of registering a trademark.
- It’ll notify the public that you’re the legal owner of the name or mark; and
- You’ll have an exclusive right to make use of the mark as you wanted in connection with any goods, products or services listed during the registration.
Things to know before registering a trademark.
There are many things that you need to know on how to trademark a name, brand or business logo. Among them is the fact that trademark registration process is legal and it has a deadline for it requirements be met.
All information you submit to the office of the USPTO will automatically become a public record and it will remain searchable in their internet databases, online search engines as well as any other databases.
These informations to become public property includes your name, address, phone number, street address, and email address. For more details, see the official website of the USPTO here.
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The USPTO Trademark Application Guidelines
The following are the procedures involves in trademarking a business for name or brand from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Note that this not all about how to trademark a name, but rather an important preamble that needs to be introduced.
- As a foreigner applicant domiciled in any part of the US, the law requires you to have an attorney licensed to practice law in US as your representative at the USPTO;
- But as a US national applicant, you are not compelled to have an attorney representing you. Although it’s advisable you get one to guide you through the process;
- A non-attorney or foreign attorneys are not allowed by the USPTO to give a legal advice, fill out any form, sign any documents or take any kind of action on the trademark application on your behalf;
- Get yourself a competent attorney so as not to jeopardize or delay your trademark application review; and
- Your trademark application has to meet some legal requirements before it can be successfully registered.
Important things to consider before filling a trademark application.
On your sojourn to learn how to trademark a name, it’s also necessary we introduce you to somethings you need 5o consider before filling a trademark application process. They include;
- The proposed mark to register
You can’t go to the USPTO office for the purpose of trademarking a name without any mark at hand, that’s why you need to find a distinct and unique name or mark right from the word ‘go’.
- Good and services
You can’t trademark a name or business without having any goods and/or services ready or in connection with the service mark you want to register.
You’ll be asked for this in other to know the extent in which you can use your mark and to easily detect if someone is using your brand on any other good or services different from the one registered.
- Is the mark meant for the present use or future?
The last thing to consider before applying for a trademark is to decide if you will be applying for the trademark for your existing business or the mark will be used in the future.
Haven put all these three vital issues into consideration and you’ve decided on what to do, the next phase on how to trademark a name is therefore filling a trademark application proper.
How to trademark a business name
This is the last and the most important phase on how to trademark a name, therefore, endeavor to it read between lines.
1. Go to TEAS online portal
You can only file your trademark application online via the official Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) portal.
The website is user-friendly and very easy to navigate, you won’t have any problem using it.
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How to file a trademark application process
Your trademark application will contain all the following information if you want your application to be reviewed and considered:
- Your name and address.
Being the applicant, you must be the owner of the proposed name to be trademarked and as such, your full name and address must be filled out.
- Definite legal entity and citizenship
In the course of filling your trademark application, you’ll be required to define the type of legal entity your business will be open to plus, your state of origin will be defined, too.
For example, you need to state it if your business is a corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC among others.
- Correspondence name and address.
This section of the form is meant for the legal representative that’ll will talk to the USPTO representative about the pending application.
- Drawing of the mark.
Since your application is for trademarking a name, then a drawing of such mark has to be included. But if you’re going to register just a word or mere phrase without any logo or design, then you only need to type the standard character word or phrase as the mark.
In addition, If the mark has some other kind of design elements, let’s say a particular style, font or color, then you’ll have to provide an accurate drawing depicting such design elements.
Lastly, if it’s an audio you want to trademark, then submission of a clip of the recorded audio will suffices.
- Listing the covered goods and services.
Also, you’ll be asked to submit a list that will cover all the goods and services you’ll be covering with the mark or name you want trademark.
Make sure you include as many goods and services as possible so as to gain the widest protection ever.
- The dates when the mark was first used.
This is meant for a trademark application submitted for an existing goods and services. It’s important you tell the date of when the mark or name was first use and a specimen of what it’s used upon.
- A verified statement or declaration of intention.
Essence, you are expected to submit a verified statement or declaration of intention to trademark a name. This could be done by the applicant himself or his legal representative and it has to be signed and dated attesting to the fact that the application was really submitted.
2. Payment of filling fee
You’ll be required to pay for a filling fee and fee vary as it’s specifically based on three different factors. Be informed that this filling fee is the trademark processing fee and it’s non-refundable even if your application is rejected.
However, at the very least, the filling fee is about $225 and it could be much higher than that if you have several amounts of classes of goods, products or services to be trademarked and protected.
3. Monitoring your application status.
The next thing on how to trademark a name after you must have submitted an application and paid the required fee is to monitor your application status to see the progress.
The monitoring can be done via the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval system. However, you are expected to check the status at least every 3 months after you filed the application.
4. Respond to the office actions
When you submit your application and it’s well received by the USPTO, your application will be assigned to an “examining attorney” to review it. If the attorney finds any fault, it’ll be rejected and the cause of the rejection will be communicated to you for proper refilling.
5. The trademark item is published
If your processes to trademark a business name or brand is approved, it’ll be published in the official Gazette of USPTO for 30 days.
During this time, if anybody feels that the mark is the same or similar to his, such party will oppose the registration of the service mark.
A court-like proceeding will therefore be conducted to resolve the issue amicably. But if there’s no opposition as to the trademark name or logo, it’ll be registered and you’ll be issued a certificate.
But before the certificate could be issued after the publication, it often takes time so if you have the intention of using the mark, you’ll have to submit an application of intention to use which a Notice of Allowance will be issued to you by the USPTO.
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6. Statement Of Use submission
If you get a Notice of Allowance from the USPTO, within six months, you’ll file a statement of use along with any evidence to show that you’ve made use of the mark. The Statement of Use filing fee is $100.
7. Trademark registration maintainance
The last tip on how to trademark a name is to maintain the trademark registration so as not to lose it in the long run. This can be done by renewing it every tenth year and of course, it requires some amount of money and certain documents.
Filling out an application for business name or logo trademark could be jaw dropping and tiring sometimes, especially if you can’t find an attorney that’s very versed in intellectual property law.
However, kindly follow all the above phases on how to trademark a name and your application will consider within a short period of time.