As a business owner, establishing an intellectual property portfolio that consists of the trademarks, copyrights, and patents that are relevant to your business should be at the forefront of your mind. These valuable assets not only protect your products and branding from competitors, but are often considered highly valued investments that represent the consumer goodwill and growing reputation associated with your company. In order to unlock that potential for your business, it is imperative that you begin building your intellectual property portfolio on a solid foundation.
Leverage the following steps on how to protect various IP:
1. Protect trademarks by clearing, then registering with the USPTO
From the beginning, it is necessary to select a strong trademark. This means finding a name, logo, or catchphrase that is not immediately descriptive or generic for the goods and services that will be offered under the trademark. This strategic choice is most advantageous in that it can decrease the likelihood that another company may coincidentally use the same mark for similar products or service offerings. If you are unsure of where to start when selecting a trademark, utilize the services of a professional trademark attorney–trademark attorneys can conduct clearance searches to determine which of your possible trademarks will have the greatest chance of securing a registration.
Once you have chosen a trademark and submitted the application, the timeline to registration typically spans about eight to ten months. Should you receive a refusal, also known as an Office action, or an opposition from a third party, the process may be extended. Once your application has been filed, it will take approximately three months to be reviewed by an examining attorney. From there, if no Office action is issued, the application is forwarded to the publication period, which is thirty days in which other parties can oppose the application should they have grounds to believe a registration may infringe upon their trademark. Following publication, the application returns to the examining attorney for a final review. Depending on the initial filing basis of the application, the application owner will need to prove use of their mark for the registration certificate to be officially issued.
To learn the full trademark registration process, click here.