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The Process of Registering a Trademark or Service Mark

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Filing a Trademark or Service Mark Application

You have started your business and you have a great logo that you want to use as a trademark. Or you have a service mark that describes your services. You want to be sure that no one else can use this trademark or service mark, so you want to register it. Although you can use a trademark or service mark without registering it, there are several benefits to registering this mark:

  • Registration serves as notice of your claim of ownership.
  • Registration helps support your claim of ownership if you need to go to court.
  • You can use trademark registration to help you obtain registration in other countries.

Here is the process for registering a trademark:

  1. Search the Trademark Records
    Before you register a trademark or service mark, check to see if someone else is already using it, with the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)
  2. File Online
    If you determine that no one else is using the trademark, you can file your application online using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).
  3. Pay the Registration Fee
    The registration fee is currently $325 for each classification of product or service in which you are registering.
  4. Include a Specimen
    A specimen (example of your trademark in use) must be included with your registration. For example, you might include an advertisement or a label using the logo you want to trademark.
  5. Wait for a Response from the USPTO
    When the Trademark Registration Office receives your registration, they do a search to make sure it is not being used, and they review the trademark to see if it fits within their guidelines. Some reasons why a trademark might not be approved are:
    • It includes immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter
    • It disparages or falsely portrays a person, institution, belief, or national symbol.
    • It uses the U.S. flag
    • It includes the name of a living person or identifies that person without consent
    • It resembles another mark already registered
    • It is merely descriptive or deceptively descriptive
    • It is primarily a surname
    • It is merely functional.

  6. If Your Trademark Registration is Approved
    It may take many months for your trademark to be approved. If approved, the Registration is good for ten years (for trademarks issued after November 16, 1989). At the end of that time, you must file a renewal application to maintain the trademark.
  7. If Your Trademark Registration is not Approved
    You may appeal the denial. Your fee will probably not be returned.

Using an Attorney Although it is not required that you use an attorney to file a trademark registration application, it may be a good idea to do so if you have questions about the process or if you are not certain that your trademark will be accepted.

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