How to Get a Trademark: A Simple Trademark Registration Guide
Companies are distinguished from one another through their names, brand aesthetics, and trademarks. Beyond being another brand signifier, each trademark is a "mark in commerce". This distinguishes it as a legal mark that can't be copied.
In industries where competition is high, a trademark can set you apart from similar companies. Moreover, trademarks allow you to expand and gain global recognition for your products. Any company that wants to reach its maximum profitability needs a trademark sooner or later.
Not sure where to start? This trademark registration guide will break down everything you need to know. Learn how to apply for and secure the perfect trademark for your brand.
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
Why Do You Need to Trademark Your Company Name?
If you run a small business, you need trademark protection for your business name. In essence, a trademark stops anyone from selling similar goods or services under the same business name or brand iconography. It secures your business’s brand against theft. Additionally, it stops customers from mixing your company up with another one.
Perhaps more importantly, trademarks protect your intellectual property. Trademark rights are very robust. They technically count as legal entities and grant you exclusive rights over your commercial products and ideas. Overall, a trademark is worth its weight in gold.
Fortunately, applying for a trademark is quick and easy. But it’s important to start the process early. Actually receiving your trademark could take a time frame of up to several months after initial filing.
Where to Get a Trademark
You can start the filing process at the US Patent and Trademark Office's website, linked here. This is the one place where you can get a legitimate trademark. Any other companies advertising trademark services are fake and trying to scam you.
Filing for a trademark online is the fastest way to get a trademark for your business. The service filing fee costs between $275 and $325. Furthermore, you’ll need to provide the US PTO with a lot of detailed information about your business, including:
- The industry your business is in
- The categories of goods and services you produce
- The date of when the trademark will go into effect
- If there’s a design component for the mark in question
Many people opt to create an artistic or aesthetically pleasing graphic for their trademark. This helps to distinguish their business from competitors. You should consider doing this as well, even if your business is relatively small.
Choose Your Trademark
The first step in the trademark application process is selecting a trademark for your company. Do this carefully, as your mark must be unique and legally protectable. For example, some trademarks will not be accepted by the USPTO if they’re too close to another company’s trademark.
If you plan to add a graphic component to your registered trademark, do so now. Create a design to send with your trademark application. The sketch or graphic for your trademark should be as detailed as possible.
There are a few different types of marks, as well. These include:
- A generic mark
- A service mark
- A sound mark
- A design mark
Each of these mark formats may suit your business depending on its needs. A trademark attorney may help you determine which mark is best for you.
Prepare and Submit Your Trademark Application
After deciding on a trademark for your company, you’ll need to prepare and submit your application. Visit the USPTO website and set up an account. It requires two-step authentication to prevent identity fraud.
The application includes a processing fee. This is nonrefundable if you have to redo the application later. So make sure every aspect of your application is accurate. Provide every piece of personal information you can as accurately as possible.
You might consider hiring legal help to go over your trademark application to ensure you get everything right the first time. A private attorney can go over the legal rights the trademark provides. They can also help with the complex process of application. Additional benefits to hiring an attorney include:
- Getting help with the application fee
- They can handle any legal trouble
- They can assist with your trademark search
- And more
Await Attorney Responses
After submitting your application to the USPTO, the organization will assign an examining attorney. The attorney will review your application over several months and make sure it complies with all the rules and statutes. The attorney will also make sure your trademark is acceptable and not used by another company.
From time to time, the attorney may send you responses or questions. Do your best to respond to these promptly. This will accelerate how quickly your trademark application is approved.
Receive Trademark Approval or Denial
Eventually, the USPTO will either approve or deny your trademark application. If it’s approved, the USPTO will publish your trademark. It’ll show up in the “Official Gazette”. This is a weekly publication from the USPTO itself.
They’ll also send you a notification about the trademark and state its date of publication. That’s when it goes into effect.
Any business that wants to solidify its brand identity and be competitive needs to publish a trademark. Luckily, applying for and publishing a trademark is relatively straightforward, even if it takes a few months. Follow the steps above to get a jumpstart on the process and you’ll get your trademark secured before a similar competitor.
Need more resources for your small business? Head over to our resource guide.