Many new business owners select their business name and logo but are unsure how to trademark a business name or logo to protect themselves. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. As the founder of Dogwood Patent and Trademark Law of Raleigh and Wilmington, I help guide my clients through safeguarding their brands using trademarks. Clients find it beneficial to have the entire trademark process outlined, so there are no surprises along the way.
The 6 Steps to Receiving a Trademark
1. Check for Existing Applications:
The first step to protecting a trademark is to make sure there are no prior trademarks that would bar registration of your mark. This is typically done through a search of the U.S. Trademark Office records. In addition to identical names/logos, trademarks that are “confusingly similar” should also be considered when determining your likelihood of successful trademark registration. While the search can be done online, it is a good idea to ask an attorney for help.
2. Check for the Capability to Register the Trademark:
Another major consideration is whether the trademark is capable of registration. For example, trademarks that are considered generic or overly descriptive (e.g., American Airlines for use with an airline company in the U.S.) are not allowed. It is always recommended to seek the advice of an attorney to provide guidance on any potential pitfalls.
3. Prepare and File the Trademark Application:
The next step in registering your trademark is to prepare and file your trademark application, including paying the applicable filing fees with the U.S. Trademark Office. Oftentimes, specimens showing the use of your trademark in commerce will also be submitted with the application.
4. Examination by the Trademark Office:
3-4 months after filing, the Examiner assigned to your trademark application will either approve or reject it. If the application is rejected, an experienced trademark attorney can be invaluable in overturning the rejection and advancing the trademark application to allowance. Further, the best chance of getting the application approved upon the first request is to consult with a trademark attorney before the application is even filed.
After your trademark application has been allowed by the Examiner, it will be published for 30 days in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Official Gazette. Any party that believes it may be damaged by the registration of your trademark can file an opposition to registration. If no opposition is filed, your application will proceed to registration.
During registration, the Trademark Office will issue a certificate of registration to the trademark owner. After the trademark registers, the owner must file specific maintenance documents to keep the trademark alive (5 years after the trademark registers, and every 10 years after that).
This process can sound overwhelming, and many times, a business owner will decide to call a trademark attorney to help with the registration process. If you have questions or would like a free consultation please contact our office in Raleigh at (919) 576 7612 or in Wilmington at (910) 612-7027
Contact Us For Consultation
Intellectual property is often our clients’ most valuable asset and raises the most complex issues. Dogwood Law places emphasis on cost-effective counselling of clients. Whether you are just starting or have years of experience we can meet with you for a free consultation.