*Please note that while Gerben Law Firm is not located in Alaska, it can assist businesses from Alaska in registering a federal trademark because it is a federal matter.
As a business owner in Anchorage, Alaska, you have direct access to the largest city in the state, complete with the benefits of Alaska’s favorable tax climate and other support for commerce. Anchorage is also a hotbed for entrepreneurs hoping to attract angel investors thanks to economic growth programs and support for small businesses – an advantageous situation whether you’re looking to operate mainly as a brick-and-mortar location, headquarter your business in Anchorage but conduct most of your sales online, or some combination of the two.
Whatever the size or status of your Anchorage-based business, however, one critical consideration to make for your company’s well-being is to protect your business name with a trademark, as well as the names of any products or services, if necessary. With a federally registered trademark, you gain a number of protections under the Lanham Act. This national law allows your business to prove ownership and use of a mark, and provides you with strong benefits in the case of legal proceedings. Without a federal trademark, you are subject to a greater burden of proof of use of your trademark, and are more vulnerable to challenges to your mark.
The federal trademark law (The Lanham Act ) allows you to protect the trademark for your Anchorage, Alaska business nationwide – but only if you file through the United States Patent & Trademark Office. Local filings through, for instance, the Alaska Secretary of State do not carry the same nationwide protections as a federal trademark. Although not based in Anchorage, AK, Gerben Law Firm’s trademark attorneys are able to assist you with a trademark filing through the USPTO since it is a federal matter.
The following three steps serve as a primer for registering a trademark for your Anchorage, AK business. They can help you prepare and plan for the process, and give you an idea of what to expect.
1) Conduct a trademark search
Before you can enjoy the benefits of a federal trademark, you need to first make sure that the mark you desire is not in use by anyone else – that is, that you’re not infringing on someone who’s already registered it. The primary way you’ll achieve this step is through a federal trademark search. Even though your business is based in Anchorage, a federal trademark covers interstate, national commerce, meaning that you’ll need to make sure that no other business throughout the entire United States owns the trademark you’re applying for.
You can use the USPTO public trademark search tool, or retain a trademark attorney to assist you with the search. A trademark attorney can assist your Anchorage business with a search to ensure you do not miss any potentially conflicting trademarks. Trademark attorneys have access to tools that are more aligned with the way the USPTO will review your
: they can account for similarities or alterations in spelling, spacing, and other naming conventions that the USPTO will look out for to make sure the mark you apply for isn’t too similar to an existing one.
As you conduct a trademark search to make sure that your mark has a good chance of passing the USPTO review, you’ll also want to make sure that the mark you’ve selected is a strong one. The stronger it is, the less likely it is to show up as an existing mark – The strongest marks are brand-new words or terms, or those completely unrelated to your product or service. Conversely, the more descriptive of your offering a mark is, the weaker it’s considered.
2) Complete your trademark application.
Your trademark application is where you’ll indicate the full range of trademark protections you desire with regard to how your mark is used, and what industry or industries it applies to. You’ll need to indicate the class of goods under which your product or service falls – marks may be granted to other companies in separate industries, if the USPTO determines that there’s a low risk of confusion. For this reason, it’s very important to file an application for every single class of goods you want your mark to cover. You’ll also include your trademark specimen here. Your specimen shows how your mark is being used in commerce to identify your product or service.
3) Actively police your trademark.
Whether purposely or inadvertently, other businesses may end up using similar names to yours, whether in Anchorage or nationwide. It’s your responsibility to stay aware of any such potential infringements, and either request that the offender ceases, or, if necessary, engage in legal enforcement action. Keep in mind that only registered trademark owners have a much easier time challenging infringing use of their marks– this is just one of the major benefits of a federal trademark registration. You’ll also want to use your mark properly, exactly as specified on your trademark application, and include the small circled “R” to serve as public notice of your registration. (Use the small “TM” up until you’re successfully registered).
Trademark registration can seem overwhelming, but these three steps explain the basics of the process. The best advice is to always consider engaging a well-qualified trademark attorney to assist you with the process. There are a lot of considerations that happen along the way, and, your business can benefit from the counsel of a trademark attorney to ensure the process goes smoothly.
To further ensure the accuracy and completeness of your trademark application, as your trademark attorney, I will hand-draft and file your trademark application. As discussed above, there are simply too many other companies who claim they can file a trademark application without the assistance of a team of attorneys. There are simply too many trademark applications that are filed without the assistance of an attorney, and, for that reason, too many unnecessary refusals from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. From search to approval I believe in giving each client the individual attention necessary during each phase of the application process to ensure the success of your trademark registration. If you have any questions on our trademark registration package please call me, trademark lawyer Josh Gerben, today or review my online services page for additional information.