Intent to Use Trademark Applications
One of the pieces of information you’ll need to disclose to the government during your trademark application process is whether or not you’re currently selling your products or services. If you haven’t begun selling your products or services (cannot prove Use in Commerce) you’ll have to file your trademark application as an “intent to use” application.
“Intent to use” trademark applications exist to ensure that people don’t sit on trademarks as people do with web domains, buying up popular or common names and then selling them at a premium. This is because an “intent to use” application cannot mature into a trademark registration without the applicant filing proof that actual goods and/or services are being offered. For example, let’s say you were starting a corporate landscaping business in Washington, DC and wanted to call it Presidential Landscaping to play off the political theme of the district. The fact that the US Government requires actually “use” of a trademark prior to issuing a trademark registration prevents a company or individual from anticipating that political themes would be popular in Washington, DC and therefore registering words like “Presidential” with a generic word from each class (e.g. Presidential Shirts; Presidential Flowers; Presidential Spice).
“Intent to use” trademark applications also exists (much like trademarks in general) to protect your intellectual property. Let’s say you work in Washington, DC at a lobbyist firm and came up with an idea for an App that would work great in getting people excited about the special interest group you represented. Well, as software development takes time, the intent to use application allows you to start the registration process to protect your App by filing an application prior to the App being available for sale. This gives you the legal priority on the trademark while you work to bring the App to market.
If you do file an “intent to use” application, within twelve months of the filing of your trademark application, you will have to prove that your products or services are being offered to the public. There are two important things to know about this “proof of use” filing. First, you have to prove that you’re selling your goods or services to more people than just family and friends. Typically, this means that you need to prove that you’re selling your goods or services across states lines; that is to say, you’ll need to sign a sworn statement that people bought your products and/or services from a different state.
From Washington, DC to Seattle Washington, “intent to use” trademark applications exist to protect you from predatory name squatting as well as protect your intellectual property when it’s in the developmental stages.