Your company’s logo and brands allow your customers to easily distinguish your products and services from the competition. Any word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes your goods from those of others is a trademark. Similarly, a service mark is any word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies your services from those of others. The word “trademark” is commonly used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.

The best time to start thinking about trademark protection is before you start using the mark.  When you come to us with a proposed trademark, we can provide a trademark clearance opinion.  A search of the trademark records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and databases showing common law use of marks is conducted.  If needed, the search can be expanded to include other countries. We analyze the search results to determine whether any other companies have marks that could impact your company’s ability to use and register your mark.  Failure to properly clear the use of a trademark can leave your company vulnerable to claims of trademark infringement by third parties, which can result in costly litigation. 

Whether you are preparing to use the mark or have been using it for years, our firm can help register the mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to ensure that the mark has the maximum legal protection.  The advantages of obtaining a federal trademark registration on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Principal Register include the following:

  • Legal presumption of your company’s ownership of the mark and the right to use the mark nationwide;
  • Public notice of your company’s claim of ownership in the mark;
  • Listing in the public database of the USPTO;
  • Allows your company to record the federal registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent importation of foreign goods that bear an infringing mark;
  • Allows your company to use the federal registration symbol ® with the mark;
  • Federal registration is required prior to being allowed to sue for trademark infringement in Federal Court; and
  • Can provide the basis for obtaining a registration in a foreign country.

Care must be taken in the filing of a trademark application.  Third parties may challenge the validity of a federal registration that is based on a faulty application.  Our attorneys will work with your company to ensure that the trademark application accurately reflects your usage of the mark. 

Once the application is filed, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office generally takes at least six months to either approve the application or notify the applicant of the reason for refusal.  Applications are commonly refused on the grounds that the mark is likely to cause confusion with a prior registration.  Our attorneys will prepare and submit arguments to the trademark examining attorney in favor of registration.  If necessary, we can appeal refusals to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.  If successful, a Certificate of Registration will issue and the mark will have federal registration status.