There are few industries where trademark protection is more important than the fashion industry. Textiles are one of the most counterfeited products in the world. A duly registered and displayed trademark can effectively distinguish a genuinely unique lifestyle brand from a low-budget imitator. Understanding the trademark registration process is essential for clothing manufacturers and designers to protect not only their name but their bottom line. This guide will help you get a grip on the trademark registration process when your primary product is clothing.
Select a Unique Name
The first step to registering the trademark of your clothing line is to pick a unique brand name that distinguishes your clothing line from competitors. Selecting a good name isn’t just a sound legal move for trademark protection; it also establishes the basis of brand-based marketing. A unique, distinguishing trademark can help designers create value for their clothing line while hindering the success of counterfeiters and imitators who might try to cash in on the creativity, popularity, and goodwill your brand has established in the marketplace. Leave your mark (pun intended) by setting on a name that will become synonymous with quality.
Conduct a Comprehensive Trademark Search
A quick internet search is a good start, but to ensure your trademark is truly unique and available, an in-depth search to make sure that your selected mark is not similar to a mark already being used is crucial. Trademark examiners tasked with reviewing your application for completeness will assess the similarities between the overall commercial impression of your trademark and the type of goods you are selling in comparison to trademark applications filed before yours, and those that have already matured to registration. If they come to the conclusion that your trademark is potentially confusing with another, they will send you an office action letter.
Why Are Searches Important
A properly conducted search can save valuable time and money, as federal regulations generally prohibit the registration of a trademark that closely resembles one that has already been registered and identifies similar goods and services. Beyond this, there is a greater concern of treading upon another's established trademark rights which could lead to the receipt of a cease and desist letter ordering you to stop using your trademark, or worse yet, a federal lawsuit for trademark infringement or dilution.
When Should I Conduct A Trademark Search?
The best time to search is before you commit significant resources to marketing your brand and before you attempt to register your trademark. An early trademark search will help you make informed branding decisions, simplify the trademark registration process, and increase your chances of receiving a federal registration for your clothing brand.
Submit the Trademark Application
To register a trademark for your clothing line, you must submit a completed application to the USPTO. Your application must include the following information to be considered complete:
· Applicant name
· Name and address for communications
· Clear drawing of the mark
· Identification of goods and the type of clothing you will be selling
· Payment of necessary filing fees for at least one class of goods
The examination of your application is almost entirely reliant upon the facts underlying the trademark, as well as its present and future uses. Performing an in-depth search, having a unique trademark, providing the appropriate information and adherence to deadlines are essential elements to a successful trademark application. The Trademark registration process may seem easy, but many factors influence the outcome of your application.
Select a Specimen
At some point during the application process, you will have to submit a specimen to accompany your trademark application. A specimen is an in-market example of how you are using your trademark to promote or identify your products to the end consumer. Specimens for clothing are a bit tricky -- placing a logo or slogan on an article of clothing will not be enough in many cases, and will likely result in the receipt of an office action letter that includes a “merely ornamental” refusal from the USPTO. Generally speaking, proper specimens for clothing involve placing the trademark on a tag or label attached to the garment to serve as a source identifier for the brand, and not a part of the overall product itself.
Hawkins IP is an intellectual property law firm specializing in the protection, maintenance, and monetization of its client's trademarks. We are dedicated to representing creators. If you have any questions regarding this article or would like to speak with an experienced trademark attorney, reach out and let's chat.