What is a trademark?

The US Patent and Trademark Office defines a trademark as “any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.” To keep it simple, a trademark can be nearly anything you use to brand your business. This usually includes the name of your business or products you offer, as well as any logos you use. It can even include colors or sounds. Tiffany & Co., the famous jeweler, famously trademarked the color Tiffany Blue.

What can be trademarked?

First, a trademark must be used to identify a good or service. For instance, a logo you use on your website or the name of your new line of products. Next, the trademark must not be identical to, or “confusingly similar” to, an existing trademark. Determining whether a trademark is “confusingly similar” to another trademark requires legal analysis. There are a few additional requirements: your trademark cannot be merely descriptive of the product (for instance, you can’t trademark “chocolate bars” for your brand of chocolate); it cannot be “scandalous” or illegal; it usually can’t be just a surname. The rules can be a bit confusing and, like most things in law, there are plenty of exceptions and pitfalls. Please feel free to contact us for a free consultation if you have a question about trademarking a particular good or service.

Does my business need a trademark?

We think it’s a good idea. After all, we founded Trademark To Go (and trademarked the name)! In all seriousness your brand identity is incredibly important. The last thing you want to do is start a business only to find out three years later that the name was already trademarked by someone else. At that point, you might need to rename your entire business. You should strongly consider trademarking your business name and logo at the same time you form the business. Similarly, you should consider trademarking new products and services right before you bring them online. If you don’t, your competitors might.

How long does the trademark registration process take?

Assuming we have the necessary information, we can typically conduct a trademark search and then file your trademark application all within 48 hours of first speaking with you. However, the actual process can take months — or even years — depending on the speed of the US Patent and Trademark Office. If the USPTO challenges your application (through a process known as an Office Action), the process can take a bit longer. We represent our clients through the entire process for one flat fee. We fight hard for our clients, but please note that trademark registration is a legal process and we can never guarantee that a trademark can be successfully registered.

What is a trademark search?

A trademark search involves searching the US Patent and Trademark Office database to ascertain whether there are similar trademarks in existence. This requires legal analysis and should be performed by an attorney. The attorney will make a calculated estimation as to whether a trademark can likely be registered, and whether as to whether the USPTO will challenge the trademark on the basis of existing similar trademarks. Trademark To Go provides free trademark searches and consultations.

Why does Trademark To Go do free trademark searches?

Ethically, we believe it would be unfair to charge you for a trademark registration package only to tell you that your trademark (or something similar) already exists. In addition, we believe that by giving people free trademark consultations and searches, they’ll see the value in working with us to register their trademarks.

What are the fees for a trademark?

The US Patent and Trademark Office charges different fees depending on the type of application. Typically, if you’re already using the trademark, the fee is $225 per trademark. If you haven’t yet used the trademark, the fee is typically $325 per trademark. Other fees may apply in certain circumstances. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss the government fees.

What does Trademark To Go charge?

We offer free trademark searches and consultations. After the search and consultation, we hope you’ll choose to work with us to register your trademark — although there’s never an obligation to do so! We charge competitive flat-fees for complete trademark registration packages. This includes preparing your application, negotiating with the USPTO, and responding to USPTO challenges (known as Office Actions). Please contact us for more specific pricing information.

How often do I need to renew my trademark?

Five years after registration, you must file a document known as the “Declaration of Use.” Between the ninth and tenth year after registration, and every 10 years thereafter, you must file a Combined Declaration of Use and Application for Renewal. We can help with this.

How do I enforce my trademark?

Trademark infringement is a cause of action that can be brought in a federal lawsuit. This is governed by a federal law known as the Lanham Act. However, before filing a federal lawsuit, many trademark disputes can be taken care of easily with a “cease and desist” letter. We can help with this.

What is the difference between a trademark, patent, and copyright?

All three are types of “intellectual property.” The main difference is what each one protects. Trademarks protect brands, like names and logos. Patents protect ideas, such as inventions. Copyrights protect works of authorship, like books or song lyrics.

If I have questions about trademarking something, who should I ask?

If you couldn’t tell, we love talking about trademarks and brand protection. Give us a call at 888-421-0589 and we’d be happy to give you a free consultation.