Updated August 2, 2018
Answers to common questions we receive about trademarks and brand protection.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is any name, word, color, symbol, design or any combination of these things, used to identify the source or the provider of a good. If it is a service being provided instead of a good, the technical classification would be a "service mark," however trademark is generally understood to identify both
How does registering a trademark help my business?
When your trademark becomes registered with the United States Patent & Trademark Office, you obtain exclusive rights to use your trademark throughout the entire United States. This allows you to enforce your rights in federal court, stop the import of counterfeit products, franchise your business and protect your business online.
Can't I do this myself?
You definitely could, or you could use a low-cost document filing service online. However, hiring an attorney to register your trademark significantly increases the chances that your trademark will be registered correctly. Over 300,000 trademark applications have been filed in 2018. Of those 300k application, over 200,000 received initial refusals. Many of these refusals are for applications filed by individual business owners and entrepreneurs, or document-filing companies. When problems arise during the examination process, you could end up spending thousands of dollars fixing an issue that could have been avoided had you hired a professional to handle it correctly the firs ttime. Don't be cheap with your brand and business, its valuable.
Do I Have A Trademark?
A huge misconception is that you have to file something to obtain a trademark. There is no such thing as "trademarking" something. A trademark is something that identifies the sale of a good or a service. You have a trademark if you are using a word, logo, design, slogan etc to identify your business. This alone gives you basic rights that do not extend beyond the state where you operate your business.
How long does a trademark registration last?
Once a trademark becomes registered, that registration is valid for a period of 5 years. At the 5 year anniversary of your trademark's registration, a renewal filing must be made with the trademark office and you have one year to make this filing. Once this renewal filing is made, another will be due on the 10th year anniversary of the registration and every 10th year after that. Provided renewal filings are timely made and your trademark is used for the goods listed within the registration, your trademark registration can last forever.
How long does it take to register my trademark?
The average registration time frame for 2018 is around 9 months. This timeframe varies dependent upon what happens during the examination of your applicaiton.