5 Tips for a Quick Trademark Registration Process

trademark registration process

Two of your greatest business assets are your company reputation and brand. Potential customers or clients will choose your goods and services when they recognize your unique name and mark. The trademark registration process is important to protect the consistent quality of your mark and prohibit others from infringing on your reputation.

Filing a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) takes time. Your business may receive trademark protection in a few months, or it could take a few years depending on:

  • Your level of preparation, which should include extensive preliminary research and a thorough trademark search;
  • The accuracy, relevancy, and legal support of your application; and
  • How quickly you respond to any issues or problems.

Most entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t have the time, experience, or legal knowledge to efficiently pursue a trademark. With so much at stake including your future business viability, it is worth consulting with a qualified trademark attorney to get it right the first time.

Basics of the Trademark Registration Process

Before completing the trademark registration application, you need to decide what you want to protect. Is it your company name? A symbol or logo? A tagline or phrase? Your trademark must be unique, specific, and clear. You must also determine which industry, products, or services are covered by your application and how your mark will be used.

Once you have the specific details pinned down, you can request trademark protection from the USPTO for your mark and your company. However, the application process is more complicated than simply completing the required paperwork and paying a fee.

You will face several legal requirements throughout the trademark registration process, and it is important to complete each step correctly to avoid delays, complications, or rejection. If you encounter trouble at any time during the application process, an experienced trademark attorney can help you navigate the system and resolve your challenges.

5 Tips to Help Make Your Trademark Registration Process Quick and Smooth

Organization and preparation help you avoid delays during the trademark registration process. The application will request specific information such as:

  • A description of your proposed mark;
  • Which services and/or products the mark will apply to;
  • The classification(s) of the desired mark;
  • When you first used it; and
  • An example of the proposed mark or logo.

Some of the more common issues that cause delays include:

  • Errors in the product or service descriptions—either too narrow, too broad, or inaccurate;
  • Suggesting a mark that has design problems;
  • Proposing a mark that is merely descriptive or generic; and
  • Descriptions that are too generic, confusing, or inaccurate as it relates to the proof of use specimens.

If your application includes any of these problems or other errors, you will receive a formal notice, called an office action, from the reviewing attorney at the USPTO. Until the office action is resolved, your application will not reach registration. Follow these five tips to avoid common mistakes that cause processing delays.

  1. Create or choose a strong logo design or mark that is distinctive and original. Logos that resemble other companies’ marks will not be accepted by the USPTO. An experienced trademark attorney can review your proposed mark and offer advice to make it more distinctive.
  2. Perform a thorough trademark search to ensure your proposed mark does not duplicate another mark and will not cause confusion. A confusing mark will lead to an office action letter from the reviewing attorney and could create objections from other businesses that have trademarked a similar logo. It is important to search your proposed logo before you begin using it to avoid potential litigation or generating a cease and desist letter from a competitor.
  3. Once you have confirmed the uniqueness of your mark, begin using it in commerce, even before you apply for a trademark. Your application will offer two options, one for a mark that is already in use and the other for one you intend to use in the future. If you are applying for a trademark you will be required to complete a Statement of Use when you start using the mark to finalize the registration process. If you are already using the mark when you first apply, you can skip the additional step.
  4. Prepare and submit a complete and accurate application providing concise information for each category and section. Be sure to provide a clean version of the proposed mark and description of the specific industry covered and identify your products or services that will use the mark. Errors on the face of the application will lead to an office action letter, delay, and further work on your part.
  5. If you receive an office action letter you have up to six months to respond. It’s best to respond as soon as possible because the sooner you respond, the sooner you will receive a response and hopefully a confirmation of your registered trademark. If you do not answer every issue raised in the office action, your application will not move forward. Some requests involve complex legal issues which are best handled by a trusted trademark lawyer.

Your application will first be reviewed by a USPTO attorney approximately three months after filing. Follow the tips above to ensure your application proceeds smoothly and provides trademark protection as quickly as possible. Working with a qualified trademark attorney is the fastest way to obtain your registered mark.

A Detail-Oriented Trademark Attorney Can Save Time and Money

A successful trademark registration requires intimate knowledge of the application process, proper research before applying, and experience responding to office actions or other requests from the USPTO. Applications filed by experienced trademark lawyers are approved more often than applications filed by unrepresented businesses.

Also, since trademark issues extend beyond the initial registration, knowing you have a trademark lawyer on your team who can assist with renewals and possible infringement actions will provide peace of mind.

Trust Our Team of Detail-Oriented Trademark Lawyers

Trademark registration can be complicated, but choosing the right attorney to help you with the process is simple. The Trademark Lawyer Law Firm, PLLC is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but we handle all types of trademark issues throughout the United States.

Although our team has successfully registered more than 5,500 trademarks, we always provide personalized service and take the time to understand your company’s needs to achieve the best possible results. Contact us online or call toll-free at 888-503-5210 to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our experienced trademark attorneys today.

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FAQ

What are Trademark Application Suspensions?

Suspensions are when your application is on hold. There are various reasons a trademark application can be suspended. However “likelihood of confusion” with prior application(s) filed and submission of foreign application are the most common reasons the USPTO may suspend an application. During a trademark suspension period, your lawyer will provide guidance on the next steps and whether it might be best to file an argument or pursue a coexistence agreement.

What are Disclaimers for Trademarks?

A disclaimer usually refers to a statement which indicates that you are not claiming exclusive rights to use the word(s) or a design element in your trademark application. A disclaimer allows for registration without creating a false impression of the registrant’s rights.

A good example of this is disclaiming “café” if your services are for a café.

What is the Supplemental Registry?

If a trademark is not eligible for the Principal Registry, there is sometimes an option to register on the Supplemental Registry.

In cases where the USPTO finds the trademark application is merely ornamental, merely descriptive, or primarily geographically descriptive, the USPTO may allow the application to be registered on the Supplemental Registry. However, over time, the mark may acquire distinctiveness and possibly become eligible for the Principal Registry.

What is the Date of First Use?

Two dates must be specified in a trademark application:

Date of First Use Anywhere: The “anywhere” refers to use in the U.S. or elsewhere. This is the date the goods were first sold or transported, or the services were first rendered under the mark. The use must also have been bona fide and in the ordinary course of trade.

Date of First Use in Commerce: This is the date when the goods were first sold or transported, or the services were first rendered under the mark in interstate or international commerce. The use of the mark must have been bona fide and in the ordinary course of trade.

What is the Renewal Timeframe for a Trademark?

The renewal timeframe for a trademark is between the 9th and 10th year anniversary of the trademark registration, and then in ten-year intervals. It is important to be aware that the USPTO also requires a registrant to provide an affidavit at the 5th and 6th years of ownership stating that the trademark is still being used in commerce. Failure to comply with the renewal timeframes or the affidavit requirements will result in the cancellation of the trademark registration.