Registering a trademark is a great way for a company to gain protection from others using its sign, design, or expression that connotes the products' brand. You have two options for registering a trademark: 1) visit www.uspto.gov to file on your own, or 2) hire an intellectual property attorney. The following article provides the basic information for navigating the process on your own.
The first caution when registering a mark on your own is to be wary of websites and notifications that look like the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO. All actions should originate from their website. You will even receive emails from companies, such as Trademarkia, with updates about your mark that appear to be official communications. They are not; they are solicitations.
Next, determine whether you need a trademark, patent, or copyright. Trademarks are used for identifying the source of a product or service. A trademark is a sign, design, or expression that identifies products or services from a particular source. A registered trademark symbol is ®. A copyright protects written words such as a poem or book. A copyright is automatic and does not need to be registered. A patent is granted to an inventor who invents an new process, product, machine or likewise.
Next, determine the type of mark you are applying for: standard mark, design mark, or sound mark.
Next, search the USPTO database to determine whether your mark is already registered with the USPTO. This can be done on their website, but can be a tedious process. Once you determine that your mark is not already registered, obtain or create a JPEG of your mark to upload. This image is needed during the application.
Next, determine your basis for filing. This information is also needed in the application, and should be written down so you are prepared to complete the application. You will either file for "use in commerce" or "intent to use." Either way, you are required to show how the mark will be used in commerce.
Lastly, you will file an application. There is an online application that saves you $50. The application will expire if you do not timely complete it, so I recommend that you gather all the information needed on the application before initiating it (note: a pdf is available to view what information is needed such as addresses, use of mark, dates, etc). The review process takes approximately 3 to 6 months. Oftentimes, they will issue a response that requires additional information from you. They will provide the contact information of the attorney reviewing your claim to assist you in your response.
This is intended only as a guide, and not as legal advice. You should contact an attorney for additional information regarding your particular situation.