Unlike a copyright, which is an indication of authorship over a piece of work, or a patent, which is an indication of ownership over an invention, a trademark (also known as a service mark when referencing services, not goods) is simply a brand name. This means that a trademark (or service mark) can be a word, name, symbol or some combination to represent and differentiate a company’s goods and/or services from another company’s goods and/or services.
IS IT WORTH IT TO REGISTER?
Although it is not mandatory to federally register a trademark, not registering waives a lot of federal protections. Think of it like this: Coca-Cola did not need to register their brand name, but not doing so would have greatly hindered their campaign to become one of the most recognizable brands on the planet. In fact, Coca-Cola still went through intense litigation many times over with copycat companies attempting to profit off of Coca-Cola’s coattails. Going through the process of registering your trademark will actually confirm any doubts you might have regarding the authenticity of your trademark. If it turns out another company has already beat you to the punch with a certain brand name or service, it is better that you know now instead of finding out in the form of a demand letter or lawsuit later.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE REGISTERING
It sounds redundant, but the first thing you want to have firmly in your mind is the exact depiction of your trademark or service mark. Assuming all goes according to plan with registration, this mark will be your company’s method to identify to the entire marketplace your specific good or service. Additionally, you will want to differentiate between whether your trade/service mark is on an already-existing product/service or if you intend to utilize this trade/service mark on a future product/service; this is known as the “basis for filing.” It is up to you (or your legal counsel) to perform sufficient research through the USPTO in order to determine if your trade/service mark will infringe upon another’s trade/service mark.
When you feel comfortable and confident enough to continue, you can officially file your trademark application at the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). This website also provides some basic facts you should know about if it is your first time to apply for a trademark registration. Note, there are strict deadlines to maintain and an attorney is encouraged to be by your side as you complete the application.
The Vethan Law Firm, P.C. helps clients every day register and maintain their trademark portfolio. Whether you are looking to register a trademark for a new business or product line, or looking to protect your existing trademarks from copycats and infringers, please contact us today.