A trademark provides a registered business with exclusive rights to any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination of these, used or intended to be used to identify the products or services of a business. Generally, owners trademark their business names to protect the brand name and logo used on goods and services.
To trademark your name, you'll need to follow a six-step process, which includes researching trademark restrictions, performing a trademark search, filing an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and responding to any issues that may arise.
What You Need To Know Before Filing:
- You must have a U.S.-licensed attorney to represent you at the USPTO if you're a foreign-domiciled applicant.
- If you are from the United States, you are not required to have a U.S.-licensed attorney represent you. However, it is strongly advised to hire a lawyer who specializes in trademark law.
- A foreign attorney or an ordinary public citizen is not allowed to provide legal advice, represent you, help you fill out a form, sign documents for you, or anything else that may include your application. This could delay the review of your application and ruin the validity of your registration.
How to Trademark a Name:
1. Read through the trademark restrictions.
While applying for a trademark name, you will need to ensure that your chosen business name is eligible for approval. The USPTO has certain restrictions in place that could result in failed applications if not followed correctly.
- You are not permitted to trademark a name if you don't plan on using it “in commerce," or intend to use it for that purpose in the future.
- Your trademark name cannot be generic or descriptive. For example, a phrase like "Hot Milk" or "Jane's" will most likely be denied as it's too generic.
- Your trademarked name will be rejected if your name does no more than describe a product or its qualities.
- You cannot share a trademarked name with another business.
Tip: To improve your chances of having your trademark name approved, your name should be distinct and should be unrelated to its ordinary meaning, like Apple for computers.
2. Conduct a trademark search.
Before you start the application process with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, you'll need to check if the trademark you seek has already been registered. By conducting a trademark search, you'll be able to recognize potential trademark issues before you officially file a trademark application or invest money in your desired business name.
3. Navigate to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.
Visit uspto.gov/trademark and navigate to the "Apply for a trademark" heading in the right hand corner. Under this heading, you'll see an option that reads, "How do I apply using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS)?". This option will lead you to a page that details the application process, requirements, TEAS application forms, and pricing information.
4. Choose a TEAS form.
There are three TEAS initial application forms: TEAS Plus, TEAS RF, and TEAS Regular.
Types of Trademark Application Forms:
The TEAS Plus application form is a popular choice as it has the lowest filing fee for a trademark or service mark. Business owners use this form when they're able to fully complete a form and apply online, correspond via email with USPTO, and choose entries from the Trademark ID Manual that accurately describe their goods/services.
Do not use TEAS Plus if:
- The Trademark ID Manual does not accurately list your goods/services.
- You do not have the information needed to complete all the required fields.
The TEAS RF application form is generally used when a business owner is willing to communicate via email and file forms through the TEAS online application system. It's also used when an owner does not want to use the ID Manual or if they don't have all the information to complete a TEAS Plus form.
The TEAS Regular application form is the most expensive option, generally used when business owners are not willing to communicate via email, file certain forms through TEAS online application system, the Trademark ID Manual does not accurately list their goods/services, and/or if they do not have the information needed to complete the TEAS Plus form.
5. File an application.
Once you've chosen the TEAS application form that suits your business needs, go back to uspto.gov/trademark and select "Apply for a trademark". You will be taken to a page that list the various forms you will need and your login access point. To apply for a trademark, you will need to login with your USPTO.gov account details. If you do not have an account, you will need to create an account.
After you receive your account details, you can apply online using their Trademark Electronic Application System.
Your application must include:
- The applicant's name and address.
- The business name you want to protect.
- The goods or services for which you want to trademark your business name.
- The reason for your filing: either use in commerce or intent to use.
- If you are filing "in commerce," you will have to produce a label or package that shows the trademarked name in use.
$225.00 /per class of goods or services.
$275.00 /per class of goods or services.
$400.00 /per class of goods or services.
6. Respond to any reviews and oppositions.
After completing the filing process, your application will be allocated to an USPTO examining attorney for an official review. If your allocated USPTO attorney finds any issues, you will receive an Office Action letter. This letter will list the various issues identified by the examining attorney and the applicant will then be given a strict deadline to amend the application. If you fail to amend the application according to the Office Action letter or you miss the deadline, your application will be denied.
A notice of application will be published in the online Official Gazette once the application has been approved by your examining attorney. This publication allows other people an opportunity to oppose the trademark application. Legal help will be required if there is any opposition to the trademark application.
If you do not have any opposition or if your opposition has been resolved, the trademark will be registered. However, your mark will only be registered if you filed "in commerce." If you filed based on intent to use, you will only receive a Notice of Allowance, which means your trademark has been allowed but will not be registered until you begin using it. When you want to start using it, you will need to file a Statement of Use and provide a specimen, such as a logo or product.
You may start using the registered trademark symbol, ®, next to your business name once the registration is complete.
Apply for Trademark Registration in Other Countries:
The Madrid Protocol, is an international treaty that allows business owners to apply for trademark registration in any of the countries that have joined the Madrid Protocol. By filing one form and paying all the fees in Swiss Francs, you could protect your trademark in up to 122 different countries.
How much does it cost to get a trademark for a name?
It costs between $225.00 and $400.00, depending on the TEAS form you choose. In addition, if the trademark in the application is used with products/services in different classes, you must pay a fee for each class.
Do you copyright or trademark a name?
You trademark a name. A copyright is filed when you want to protect original works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.
How do I trademark a name for free?
You cannot trademark a name for free.
Where do I go to trademark a name?
In the United States, federal trademark regulations state that it's mandatory to file electronically with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. You can visit their official website to start your trademark application.
How long does a trademark last?
A trademark can last forever. However, you will need to prove continued use of the trademark in commerce to indicate the source of goods and services. In addition, a trademark registration can also last forever if you file specific documents and pay fees regularly.
How do I trademark a word?
How do I trademark a brand of clothing?
To trademark a brand of clothing, you can follow the process listed above. You will need to ensure your product is accurately described in the Trademark ID Manual.
Can I use a name already trademarked?
No. You are not permitted to trademark a name already registered with the USPTO. The USPTO have strict restrictions that has to be followed in order to get approval.
Is it necessary to trademark a logo?
No. However, businesses often trademark their business names to protect their logos and brand name.