TRUiC brilliantly details the Trademark registration process, breaking down frequently asked questions along the way
In an analytical and precise manner, TRUiC has strategically explored how to register a business brand and protect your business’s name- detailing the ways in which trademarks, copyrights, and patents can differ in relation to their registration process, costs, and legal protections.
Basic Facts About Trademarks: The Do’s and Don’ts
What is a Trademark? Distinguishing it from a Patent or Copyright
A trademark is essentially the name of your registered business entity. This can include any:
- a) word, name, symbol, device, or
- b) combination of the above,
- c) used or ‘intended to be used’ in order to identify and distinguish between the products of one business or seller from the products of another.
Establishing whether you need to file for a trademark, a copyright, or a patent depends solely on the type of intellectual property that you need to protect.
In very simple legal terms, patents are focused with the protection of intellectual inventions, copyright laws are focused with literary and artistic works (inventions that have already been potentially ‘copied’,) and trademarks are focused with your business’s brand name- such as its associated label or symbol.
Each process involves significantly different procedures and can demand a completely different amount of time, legal formality, and capital. Consequently, it is crucial that you strategically plan out the legal characterisation of the intellectual property that you will need to protect in advance.
How Important is Trademark Registration?
Although registering your Trademark at a federal level is not exactly a legal requirement, it does undoubtedly provide several commercial and structural benefits.
Such benefits can include:
- the presumption of absolute legal ownership on a federal level, and
- the exclusive right for the use of the brand label in question.
As briefly touched on above, TRUiC’s website provides a detailed, strategic analysis of the aforementioned commercial benefits and consequently has been recommended as an essential tool for businesses looking to successfully register a federal trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Do I need to hire an intellectual Property lawyer?
If you are a foreign applicant, you will be legally required to have a licensed lawyer represent you and your rights at the USPTO.
This is because attorneys based outside of the U.S.- or no attorneys at all, can lack the necessary legal breadth and depth required to sufficiently file the aforementioned registration process and consequently may fail in successfully protecting your business’s intellectual property rights.
On the other hand, United States based applicants will not be required to hire an attorney. Nevertheless, it is still strongly recommended by all government agencies, the USPTO, and TRUiC as hiring an intellectual property specialist will undoubtedly provide a significantly smoother transitional process for your business- allowing you to invest your time elsewhere.
Examining the Registration Procedure
In ensuring you adequately register your trademark, you will need to complete the following steps:
- identify your trademark’s format- this is an important step as every applicant is required to provide a ‘representation’ of their business’s symbol or word,
- identify your corporation’s relevant goods and/or services- such identification must be precise enough to sufficiently define the legal nature of the products that you want to protect,
- ensure your desired mark’s available- before officially filing your registration application, perform a quick search on the USPTO database in order to verify for a fact that no one else has any legal rights associated with such a mark or symbol, and
- specify the legal ‘basis’ for the filing of your trademark before using the Trademark Electronic Application System to complete your registration process.
As briefly mentioned above, registering for a trademark can be a long and tedious process and- ideally, should be handled by an area specialist.
Things to Remember
Keep in mind that the Trademark registration process does require a fee- albeit a relatively small one, which is not refundable regardless of the outcome of your application.
Moreover, protecting your legal rights following a successful registration with the USPTO will be entirely your responsibility; the related government agencies do not ‘police’ or ‘govern’ the use of trademarks in any way and consequently you will need to independently bring in a legal action in scenarios where your trademark rights are infringed.
Lastly, make sure you regularly monitor the status of your application via the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) system. Ideally, this should be done every 3-6 months following the filing of your application so as to ensure you do not miss any filing-related deadline.