The following article is not intended as legal advice.
Did you know that your logo, slogan and brand name let people know where to find your product?
As an entrepreneur, your brand identity is the most valuable part of your business. Your brand name signals to your customers the quality and reputation of your products and services. It takes time, dedication and hard work to build up a good reputation for your brand, so you want to do everything you can to protect that hard work!
How Do You Prevent Someone From Ripping Off Your Brand Name?
We start by registering your logo, slogan and/or brand name as a Trademark (TM) with the USPTO, a government agency.
What Is A Trademark?
A Trademark is any word, phrase, symbol, image, or combination identifying and distinguishing the goods or services of one party from another. The term "trademark" (TM) is often used in a general sense to refer to both trademarks and service marks.
- A trademark distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.
- A service mark identifies the source of a service rather than goods.
Seven Legal Rights You Gain By Registering Your Trademark
- You become the legal owner of the trademark.
- The exclusive right to use the trademark. Federal registration gives you exclusive rights around the United States. State Trademark registration gives you exclusive rights within that state.
- Allows the public to be aware of your ownership of your trademark.
- Your trademark becomes listed in the USPTO’s database. Existence of your trademark in the USPTO’s database allows others to avoid choosing a trademark that is too similar to yours.
- Can record registration with the U.S. Customs & Border Protection. This allows the U.S. Customs & Borders Protection agency to stop the import of goods that infringe on your trademark .
- Right to bring legal action concerning the trademark in federal court.
- Use registration as a basis for foreign filing. This is important for companies with international reach.
How To File
We have to use the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) to file your Trademark registration application with USPTO. It is important to make sure to follow their rules and regulations when filing your application, because they do not offer refunds for their filing fees and may reject your application due to improper filing. Filing does not guarantee a registration. Your trademark is only considered officially registered when USPTO offers the final approval. Plan for this process to take at least 6 months from start to finish.
The Filing Fees
The final filing fee depends on the application filing option you select. One mark per application, but you can request as many classification you like in your application. It is important to be aware that this filing fee is not returned even if ultimately the USPTO does not issue a registration. So hiring an attorney to look over your application can save you money in the long run.
TEAS Plus Filing Option - $250 per classification
TEAS Standard Filing Option - $350 per classification
The TEAS Plus filing option is $250 per classification of goods or services, but has the strictest requirements. One application can be used to file for multiple classifications (classes). While an application may only have one mark, it may cover multiple classes and a filing fee must be paid for each class. For example, a TEAS Plus application for a mark applied to both computer software in Class 9 and clothing in Class 25 would have two classes. This makes the filing fee cost $500 ($250 for each class).
If you submit a TEAS Plus application but do not satisfy those application filing requirements, you will be required to submit an additional processing fee of $100 per class of goods or services. Then your application will then be handled as a TEAS Standard application.
The TEAS Standard filing option is $350 per classification of goods or services for applications electronically filed that do not meet the additional TEAS Plus requirements
Understanding the filing process is very important and should include a good understanding of the trademark application timeline as well as trademark classification. You can access all of this ane more throughThe Trademark Guide: Trademark Registration Masterclass!
After securing yout trademark, the work does not end. You will have to maintain your mark with the USPTO but you will alsohave the right to enforce your rights as a new trademark owner.
THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO WHEN THE OTHER PARTY USE YOUR REGISTERED TRADEMARK WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION.
1. Send a Cease and Desist Letter (Demand Letter). This is a letter that requests that an individual or organization stop using your trademark and refrain from doing it in the future, with a threat of legal action if the recipient fails to comply.
2. Enter into licensing agreements. Negotiate a monetary arrangement for the other party's usage of your trademark.
3. File a trademark infringement lawsuit.
In conclusion, if you want to protect your brand name and overall brand - a federally registered trademark is an amazing tool to do so. You can learn so much through free resources from The Boho Business Guide but can also visit the USPTO.gov for official respirces.
Some simple reminders include:
- Use the trademark in commerce.
- Be descriptive when preparing your USPTO application.
- Be timely with the registration and enforcement of your trademark.
Learn more by visiting Omilegal.com for more information on legal services and Thebohobusinessguide.com for legal templates and business resources.
Meet the writer: Debbie Yang
Debbie Yang is a fashion design BFA graduate of Parsons School of Design. While working as a handbag designer at Marc Jacobs, she noticed there was a need for lawyers who have a deep understanding of the design industry. This need inspired her to pursue law school. She is currently attending Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and serving as a spring legal intern for OMI Legal LLC. You can find Debbie's law school journey and illustrations on her Instagram @debbiecyang.
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