*Please note that while Gerben Law Firm, PLLC is not located in Maryland, it can assist businesses from Maryland in registering a federal trademark because it is a federal matter.
Gerben Law Firm provides representation on federal trademark matters for both small and large Baltimore-based businesses. Located just a short drive down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, Gerben Law Firm has been helping businesses register and protect their trademarks since 2008. The attorneys at Gerben Law Firm have registered over 3500 trademarks and are ready to assist you and your business with your unique trademark needs.
Gerben Law Firm is based in Washington, DC but assists clients in federal trademark matters from across the country, including from Baltimore.
Federal Trademark Registration For Your Business
Testimonials From Our Clients in the Baltimore Region
“We were referred to Josh by a business colleague, and were skeptical that any online US Trademark filing process could be both simple and successful. Our experience with other firms (on other trademarks) had been tedious and expensive, by comparison. But Josh’s system worked, and we were awarded both trademarks. Of course, which trademark applications are approved and which are denied is up to the USPTO, but Josh’s system made the process seamless. Great work at a great price. I love this process and recommend it highly.”
– Michael Zimmerman (LinkedIn)
MarketPoint, LLC – Baltimore, Maryland
Top 5 Questions Baltimore Businesses Have About Protecting a Trademark
- Why should I register my trademark with the USPTO?
- Federal registration of a trademark gives the owner several key benefits over un-registered trademark owners. First, once a mark is registered, every other business offering similar goods and services is expected to search the USPTO database and avoid using a mark confusingly similar to a registered mark. They can’t say they had never “heard of you” and still use a confusing trademark. For unregistered trademarks, two uses of identical marks can potentially co-exist in different parts of the country by two different companies. Trademark registration also gives the owner a legal presumption that the trademark is valid and that the owner is the true owner of the trademark and tends to be much easier to enforce a registered trademark versus an unregistered one.
- What is the difference between a trademark and a copyright?
- A trademark protects words, phrases, logos and pretty much anything that indicates, to consumers, that a product or services comes from a particular company. This can be business names, slogans, designs, and even sounds or smell. A copyright protects creative works, such as art, writing, music, from others using that work without permission. As an example, if you sell your own branded cell phone cases online, trademark law protects the brand name, while copyright law would protect the photographs you take of your products.
- When should I file my trademark application?
- You can file a trademark application under and “intent-to-use” basis as soon as you have a bona fide intent to use a trademark in the United States. An intent-to-use would mean that you are working towards using the mark on products on in connection with services. You cannot file for a trademark that you do not intend to use just for the sake of keeping a competitor from using it.
- Is my trademark application kept secret while the USPTO reviews it?
- All trademark applications are public records and are posted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website daily. Every response to and from the USPTO will be public as well.
- How do I know what classes I should file for?
- Deciding on what classes to file under is one of the many legal decisions made during the trademark application process. There are 47 different classes to choose from and some of them are not always obvious on their face. For example, music recordings and cell phone cases are in the same class. You should pick the classes that best fit the goods and services you are offering or plan to offer, but do not file in classes you do not intend to use.
Common Misconceptions about Filing Trademarks for Baltimore Businesses
- I do not need permission to register a trademark with a celebrity’s name in it, because they are public figures.
- The USPTO will require a written and signed consent for any use of a living person’s name as a part of any trademark application for a business or individual that is not that specific person. Every year, thousands of trademark applications using famous people’s names, such as politicians, are denied by the USPTO.
- I should register in as many classes as possible and include as many goods as I can think of.
- Trademark applications should be narrowly tailored to the goods and services that are (or will be) offered by the applicant. By registering in too many classes you may (1) increase the chances of getting denied (based on pre-existing marks or lack of use) and (2) spend a lot of money doing it. Further, if the application is drafted too broadly, any resulting registration could be subject to cancellation.
- I registered my trademark before a competitor who has been using a similar trademark for longer. I am the rightful owner and can tell the competitor to cease-and-desist.
- While federal trademark rights are extremely valuable, unregistered trademarks are still given “common law” rights. These are limited rights, but if you knew (or should have known) that a competitor was using a similar mark, then you may be infringing on their mark, regardless of your registration status.
- I googled my trademark so I do not need to do a comprehensive search.
- A comprehensive search looks for trademarks similar in sight, sound, meaning and commercial impression. Any existing mark for similar goods or services that fit into any of those criteria could be problematic for your use and registration of a trademark.
The Number of Trademarks Registered by Baltimore Businesses (by Year)
How many trademarks have Baltimore, Maryland businesses registered over the years? Gerben Law Firm collected the following data.
|Year||# of Trademarks Registered|
*data was gathered from the USPTO’s public database
Types of Trademark Services We Offer
Additional Information on Trademark Registration for Baltimore Businesses
Baltimore is an inspiring mix of young, hip start-ups, entrepreneurs, and established businesses. But the one thing they all have in common is that each one needs a strong trademark to grow their business.
Trademark protection allows businesses to invest in the quality of their products and services. It helps ensures that, after all of the effort a business owner puts into their marketing, customer experience and quality, no one will be able to piggy-back on that success and get a “free ride.” However, a strong, protectable trademark is not something that is just handed to a business. Savvy business owners know that strong trademarks are obtained through diligence and hard-work, starting with the trademark’s conception all the way to its enforcement and long-term protection.
Let’s say you are a baker who specializes in fried dough. You started as a small stand in the inner harbor and you just signed a lease on your first brick-and-mortar bakery in Canton. Originally you were just called the “Fried Dough Stand.”
Fundamentally, at its heart, “Fried Dough Stand” is a descriptive trademark. It merely describes the goods and service that are being offered. While it is possible to gain trademark rights in a descriptive mark (think American Airlines) it takes time and a significant level of consumer awareness. Even if you are able to establish trademark rights, those rights will be limited in scope.
So you decide on the name “Españurros” for your bakery, based on a mix of the words “español” and “churros.” These types of marks are inherently strong, because it does not describe the products directly and requires a significant “leap” for the consumer to connect “Españurros” with a bakery selling fried dough. The next step would be to have an attorney perform a comprehensive trademark search. This search will look at what is already registered and already in use and determine if you have a high risk of having issues with the trademark in the future. If it does, then you should consider choosing a new name now, instead of investing a significant amount of money and risk having to completely re-brand.
If you’re comfortable with your risk level, the next step is to draft a trademark application and apply to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. An experience attorney can counsel you regarding your identification, filing basis, International Classes, and proof of use. Once you apply, the entire process will take at least 8-9 months. During that time, a government attorney will review the trademark and, if he or she approves it, will allow any third party a chance to object to your registration.
At the end of that period, if you are successful, you will own a federal trademark registration.
The journey towards a strong trademark does not end there – in fact, it never ends. You must diligently protect your trademark from confusingly-similar uses on related goods and services. You must monitor the USPTO and the marketplace to ensure no one is infringing on your rights. You must also consistently use the trademark and keep it in use, because if you stop using the trademark, you could lose your registration and trademark rights.
Trademark protection is an ongoing process, but successful business owners know the value of their brands and the important of developing strong, protectable trademarks. The attorneys at Gerben Law Firm have the experience to provide individualized trademark advice to a variety of clients, big and small.