Trademarks

Trademark law can be used to protect your branding.

"A trademark can be any word, name, symbol, logo, or design, or any combination thereof, used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods (or services) of one manufacturer or seller from those of another."

Your trademark can be used to protect the branding that distinguishes your products from those manufactured or sold by others. A key purpose of trademarks is to prevent your customers from being confused by your competitors into buying their products, thinking they are buying yours. Your trademark ownership rights can be an important part of the value of your brand and company valuation at exit.

A registered U.S. trademark establishes your rights to the mark within the United States. The process for registering your trademark begins with the filing of a trademark application. The application will be Examined by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to determine if your mark is distinctive from other registered marks and if it meets other requirements for registration. Foreign trademarks can also be filed to protect your mark in countries where you currently sell, or plan to sell in the future.

Before filing any trademark applications, however, we highly recommend a trademark search, which includes a follow up strategy conversation with our attorneys.

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Our trademark services include:

  • Trademark Searches
  • Trademark Applications – Word Marks, Design Marks and Combination Marks
  • Trademark Strategy / Portfolio Development
  • Trademark Portfolio Management
  • Competitive Trademark Watch Service
  • Trademark Opposition/Cancellation Proceedings
  • International Trademark Applications in 150 countries
  • Madrid Protocol International Trademark Applications

What is the difference between a word mark and a design mark?

In simple terms, a word mark is a trademark for “just the name or phrase.” A word mark protects a name or phrase, without any limitation to a specific font style, size, color, or design. A word mark prevents your competitors from using a confusing similar name or phrase.

A design mark, on the other hand, protects trademarks that are stylized, have designs or logos, or are in color. Trademark owners typically register a design mark when the stylization and design is an distinctive part of their branding. With this format, you’re getting protection specifically for the way the trademark appears.

Generally if the name itself is distinctive, then a word mark will be the most important to obtain. The design mark can then provide secondary protection — preventing competitors from using a logo/design that looks like yours, even if they use a different name/phrase.

Does My Mark Need to be "In Use" Before Filing a Trademark Application?

In order to complete the registration process, the mark ultimately needs to be in use on the products or services that we designate in the application.

We can file an application:
    A. If the mark is already in use or
    B. when you have a genuine intent to use the trademark.

If you file under “intent to use,” your application will be received by the USPTO, reviewed by an Examiner, and hopefully approved. In order to complete the registration process, however, you will need to show that the mark is in use on the products or services that we designated in the application.

Do I really need to do a trademark search?

A search is an extremely important first step in the trademark process. This search will not only help determine whether your trademark application is likely to be successfully registered, but it will also help us to see all available options and decide on the right strategy/approach for maximum protection.

The USPTO trademark database contains the records of all active and inactive trademark registrations and applications. We search this database for any applied-for or registered trademarks to see which ones might be in conflict with your trademark, to discuss your chances for obtaining a registered trademark, and to possibly suggest options or modifications that may increase your chances for success.

How do I obtain International Trademarks?

The best time to file international trademark applications is within six months of filing your U.S. application. When we file your international application(s) within that time period, we can claim priority from your U.S. application.

There are two main pathways for seeking international trademarks:

  1. If you would like protection in only one or two other countries (for example, Canada and Mexico), we can file applications directly in those countries. We file these applications using our “overseas affiliate” law firms in each country you select.
  2. If you would like protection in several countries, we can file a “Madrid Protocol” Application. This allows us to file a single application that designates and seeks protection in multiple countries.

How Do I Get the Trademark Process Started?

To discuss the possibility of us working together to obtain your trademarks, book a strategy call.

Learn more about how trademarks will help you protect your business:

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