A trademark represents your brand or product. Names, logos, and slogans are common trademarks. A copyright, on the other hand, protects a work of authorship, including books, paintings, and even computer code. To ensure intellectual property is protected, work with your attorney to obtain a federal registration.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is anything that represents your brand in the marketplace. The most common trademarks are business and product names, logos, and slogans, but it’s possible to register non-traditional trademarks, as well. Unique color schemes, sounds, and even smells may have the potential to become a registered trademark.
Deciding which aspects of your business need to become trademarks can be challenging. Start with the aspects of the business you want to represent your brand for customers. The goal of any successful business is to have your product or service stand out in the crowd, and a federally registered trademark will do just that. It will also protect you from others that might want to profit from your brand’s reputation. Once registered and used consistently, your trademarks will help establish your unique brand by creating consumer recognition and growing customer loyalty.
How to Register a Trademark
Because the United States is a first-to-use country, you do have some legal protections simply by using the mark in public. Unfortunately, those rights are quite limited. For instance, without a federal trademark registration, your mark will only be protected in the small geographic region where your business is based. If you plan to expand your business to another region, your common law rights will likely not protect you. In order to gain the presumption of nationwide validity, you must register your mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO.
Before you register your mark with the USPTO, work with a trademark attorney to conduct a comprehensive trademark search. This will determine if your mark is already in use by another business or individual. It can be frustrating to learn about an existing mark when you’ve invested time and money in creating your brand, but it’s best to learn this before you file your application and pay the associated fees. If you find your mark, or one like it, exists, you may need to make some changes before filing.
Once you are certain another business or individual isn’t already using your mark, submit your trademark application to the USPTO as soon as possible. This is because the date you file your application becomes your priority date, which means anyone wishing to file a similar mark after that date will likely be rejected. After your trademark registration has been approved by the USPTO, it won’t expire, as long as you use the mark consistently and meet renewal deadlines.