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Ann Arbor, Michigan Businesses Use Cohn Legal for Trademark Services
Serving clients in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Cohn Legal Group is a boutique law firm that focuses on trademark law and intellectual property protection for startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. Our team of attorneys has the requisite expertise to provide outstanding legal support and guidance to a wide variety of clients. We’re ready to help you build strong brands, protect your established trademarks, and advocate for your intellectual property rights.
Top Questions Ann Arbor Businesses Have About Obtaining a Trademark
If I Only Provide My Services in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Can I Still Obtain a Federal Trademark?
This is an excellent question. Ultimately, to obtain a federal trademark, it must be used in “interstate-commerce” meaning that your services must be provided in at least two States. If you are presently only providing your services in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we can simply file an Intent to Use application; The intent-to-use application allows the applicant to reserve the right to use the trademark once it is ready to be used in inter-state-commerce.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a distinctive symbol, word, phrase, design, or combination thereof that is used to identify and distinguish the goods or services of one seller from those of others. It serves as a source identifier, helping consumers recognize and associate products or services with a particular brand or company. Trademarks play a crucial role in the business world as they help build brand recognition, reputation, and loyalty.
When a business uses a trademark to identify its goods or services, it gains certain exclusive rights to that mark. These rights typically include the right to prevent others from using a similar mark that could cause confusion among consumers. In essence, trademarks provide legal protection for the brand identity, preventing unauthorized use by competitors.
To be eligible for trademark protection, a mark must be distinctive and not generic or merely descriptive of the goods or services it represents. It should be capable of identifying the source of the product or service and should not be confusingly similar to existing trademarks in the same industry.
Registering a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the relevant trademark authority in other countries provides additional legal benefits, but common law rights may still apply even without formal registration.
Is there a difference between a trademark and service mark?
Yes, there is a difference between a trademark and a service mark, though they are both types of marks used for branding.
A trademark is used to identify and distinguish goods. This means it is affixed to products or physical goods. For example, a trademark may be used on the label of a beverage, on the packaging of a consumer product, or on the product itself. Trademarks are associated with tangible items.
On the other hand, a service mark is used to identify and distinguish services offered by a business. Instead of being used on physical goods, service marks are used in connection with services provided by the business. For instance, a service mark may be used in advertising for legal services, restaurant services, consulting, etc.
The distinction between trademarks and service marks may seem subtle, but it’s essential for legal purposes, particularly when registering the mark with the USPTO or other trademark authorities.
What’s the difference between the ® and TM symbols?
The ® symbol and the TM symbol serve different purposes and convey different legal meanings:
- TM Symbol: The TM symbol stands for “trademark.” It is used to indicate that a word, phrase, logo, or symbol is being used as a trademark to identify the source of goods or services. The TM symbol is not reserved for registered trademarks and can be used by anyone to claim ownership and put others on notice of their intent to assert rights over that mark. It’s commonly used when a company is in the process of applying for trademark registration or when they choose not to pursue formal registration but still want to assert their rights to the mark.
- ® Symbol: The ® symbol, on the other hand, stands for “registered trademark.” It should only be used after a trademark has been officially registered with the appropriate government authority, such as the USPTO. The registration process provides legal protection and exclusive rights to the trademark owner to use the mark in connection with the specified goods or services. Using the ® symbol without a valid registration is illegal and may lead to legal consequences.
In summary, the TM symbol is used for trademarks that are not yet registered but are being used to identify goods or services. The ® symbol is used exclusively for trademarks that have completed the registration process with the appropriate trademark authority.
How can I determine if a trademark is available?
Determining the availability of a trademark is a crucial step before adopting and using it for your business. Conducting a comprehensive trademark search helps you assess whether a similar or identical mark is already in use for related goods or services. Here are the steps to determine if a trademark is available:
- Preliminary Search: Start with a preliminary search on the internet using search engines and social media platforms. Look for websites, online marketplaces, and social media profiles that may be using a similar mark. While this step is not exhaustive, it can give you an initial idea of potential conflicts.
- USPTO Trademark Database: Check the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) online trademark database. This is a valuable resource to find federally registered trademarks. Conduct both a basic search and a more detailed search using different variations of the mark to identify potential conflicts.
- State Trademark Databases: Some states maintain their own trademark databases. If you intend to operate only within a specific state, searching state databases can be beneficial.
- Common Law Search: Keep in mind that trademark rights can also be established through common law use, even without formal registration. Use a common law search to identify unregistered trademarks that may be similar to your proposed mark.
- Professional Trademark Search: Consider hiring a trademark attorney or a professional trademark search firm to conduct a comprehensive search. These professionals have access to specialized databases and can perform more thorough searches to identify potential conflicts.
- Evaluate Search Results: Once you’ve gathered the search results, carefully evaluate potential conflicts. Look for marks that are similar in sound, appearance, or meaning, and which cover related goods or services. Assess whether these existing marks could create confusion among consumers.
- Trademark Attorney Consultation: If you’re unsure about the search results or need guidance, it’s advisable to consult with a trademark attorney. They can help you interpret the search results and provide advice on the likelihood of success in obtaining registration.
It’s essential to remember that even if a trademark search doesn’t show any conflicts, it doesn’t guarantee complete protection. Additional marks may exist that were not identified in the search. Therefore, monitoring your trademark and taking prompt action against potential infringers is vital to safeguarding your rights.
Always conduct a thorough trademark search before investing time and resources into branding to avoid potential legal issues and to ensure a strong foundation for your business’s identity.
Do I need to sell a product or service to obtain a registered trademark?
No, you do not necessarily need to sell a product or service to obtain a registered trademark. Trademark protection is available for both goods and services, so you can seek registration for a mark even if you haven’t started selling the product or providing the service yet. However, there are some essential considerations to keep in mind:
- Intent-to-Use Application: In the United States, you can file an “Intent-to-Use” (ITU) application with the USPTO. This type of application allows you to secure a filing date for your trademark before you’ve actually used it in commerce. It serves as a reservation of rights while you prepare to launch your product or service. After filing the ITU application, you will need to provide evidence of actual use (a “specimen”) in commerce before the trademark can be registered.
- Actual Use vs. Intent-to-Use: If you are already using the trademark in commerce at the time of filing, you can choose to file an “Actual Use” application. In this case, you will need to submit evidence of current use along with the application.
- Declaration of Use: After the USPTO approves your Intent-to-Use application, you will need to submit a “Declaration of Use” or a “Statement of Use” within a specific timeframe (usually six months to three years, depending on certain factors) from the date the USPTO issues the Notice of Allowance. This declaration includes proof of actual use of the trademark in commerce.
- Extensions: If you need more time to use the trademark in commerce, you can file extensions of time to submit the Declaration of Use. However, there is a limit to the number of extensions you can request.
- Abandonment: If you fail to submit the required Declaration of Use within the given time frame or meet the extension deadlines, your Intent-to-Use application may be deemed abandoned, and you will lose your priority filing date.
It’s essential to consult with a trademark attorney to understand the specific requirements and procedures for obtaining a registered trademark based on your unique situation. A trademark attorney can guide you through the application process, assist with proper classification of goods and services, and help ensure that your rights are protected as you move forward with your business plans. Remember, proper trademark registration can provide important legal benefits, including nationwide protection and the ability to enforce your rights against infringers.
If I only provide my services locally, can I still obtain a federal trademark?
Yes, you can still obtain a federal trademark even if you only provide your services locally. The key factor for federal trademark registration is the use of the mark in commerce, not the extent of geographical reach. However, there are essential points to consider:
- Basis for Registration: To register a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you must demonstrate either “Actual Use” of the mark in commerce or a “Bona Fide Intent to Use” the mark in commerce. If you are already providing your services locally and are using the mark to identify and distinguish those services, you may qualify for Actual Use-based registration.
- Use in Commerce: The USPTO defines “use in commerce” as the bona fide use of the mark in the ordinary course of trade, and such use must be consistent with the offering of the services identified by the mark. Local use of the mark qualifies as “use in commerce” as long as the services are offered and rendered in a real and legitimate commercial setting.
- Specimen of Use: In the trademark application process, you will need to submit a specimen that demonstrates the use of the mark in commerce. For services, acceptable specimens may include advertising materials, brochures, business cards, or websites showing the mark in connection with the services offered. If your services are only provided locally, the specimen should reflect this local use.
- Incontestability: Once your federal trademark is registered and you continue to use the mark in commerce, you may eventually be eligible to claim “incontestable” status for your mark, which provides certain advantages in enforcing your trademark rights.
- Geographical Limitations: It’s important to note that federal trademark registration only provides protection within the United States. If your business expands or you wish to offer your services in other regions, you may want to consider filing for trademark protection in additional jurisdictions.
- Common Law Rights: Even if you do not seek federal registration, using a mark in local commerce may still afford you some common law trademark rights, which provide limited protection against others using a confusingly similar mark in the same area.
As with any trademark application, it is recommended to consult with a trademark attorney to navigate the application process and ensure that you meet all the legal requirements. A trademark attorney can advise you on the best strategy for protecting your mark based on your business goals and the nature of your services.
What should I register first: the name of my business or my brand logo?
When deciding what to register first, the name of your business or your brand logo, it’s essential to understand the differences in trademark protection and how they are used in commerce. Both the name and logo can be crucial elements of your brand identity, so it’s essential to consider your business goals and marketing strategy.
- Name of Your Business (Word Mark): Registering the name of your business as a word mark provides protection for the textual representation of the name. It allows you to prevent others from using the same or a confusingly similar name for related goods or services. A word mark can be versatile as it can be used on various promotional materials, marketing campaigns, websites, and other brand communications.
- Brand Logo (Design Mark): Registering your brand logo as a design mark protects the specific visual design or graphic elements of the logo. This means that others are prohibited from using a similar logo design that could cause confusion among consumers. A design mark is particularly useful when the visual appearance of your logo is distinctive and plays a significant role in brand recognition.
So, which one should you register first? The answer depends on your business’s unique branding strategy:
Register the Business Name (Word Mark) First If:
– Your business name is distinctive and not commonly used in your industry.
– You plan to use the name on various products or services beyond a specific logo design.
– The visual representation of your business name isn’t the primary factor in brand recognition.
Register the Brand Logo (Design Mark) First If:
– Your logo design is unique, creative, and plays a significant role in brand recognition.
– You want to protect the specific visual elements of the logo from imitation.
– The logo itself is an essential part of your marketing and brand identity.
Register Both the Word Mark and Design Mark:
In many cases, businesses choose to register both the word mark (business name) and the design mark (logo) to gain comprehensive protection for their brand. This approach ensures that both the textual representation of the brand and the specific visual elements are safeguarded.
It’s important to conduct a comprehensive trademark search before registration to ensure that your chosen name or logo doesn’t conflict with existing trademarks. Working with a trademark attorney is highly recommended to navigate the registration process successfully, understand the legal nuances, and develop a robust trademark protection strategy that aligns with your business objectives. Registering your trademarks can provide significant benefits, including exclusive rights to use the marks and the ability to enforce them against potential infringers.
What is a fanciful trademark?
A fanciful trademark is a type of trademark that is inherently strong and distinctive. It is created by using a completely made-up or coined word that has no existing meaning in any language. Fanciful trademarks are at the highest level of distinctiveness on the spectrum of trademark categories, which also includes arbitrary, suggestive, descriptive, and generic marks.
Here’s a breakdown of the different types of trademarks:
- Generic Marks: These are common words or terms that are used to describe a particular product or service and cannot be registered as trademarks. For example, “Computer” for a computer company would be generic.
- Descriptive Marks: These marks describe the qualities or characteristics of a product or service and are not inherently distinctive. Descriptive marks can only be registered if they have acquired secondary meaning, meaning that consumers recognize the mark as a source identifier due to long-term use and extensive advertising. An example of a descriptive mark would be “Creamy” for ice cream.
- Suggestive Marks: Suggestive marks hint at the nature or characteristics of the goods or services but require consumers to use their imagination or perception to understand the connection. Suggestive marks are considered inherently distinctive and can be registered without showing secondary meaning. An example of a suggestive mark is “Netflix” for online streaming services.
- Arbitrary Marks: These marks use common words, but their meaning has no relation to the product or service they represent. Arbitrary marks are considered highly distinctive and can be registered without showing secondary meaning. An example of an arbitrary mark is “Apple” for computers and technology products.
- Fanciful Marks: Fanciful marks are entirely invented words that have no existing meaning in any language. They are created solely for use as trademarks, and because of their uniqueness, they are considered the strongest and most protectable type of mark. Fanciful marks are inherently distinctive and can be registered without any need to demonstrate secondary meaning. Examples of fanciful marks include “Kodak” for cameras and “Xerox” for photocopiers.
The primary advantage of choosing a fanciful mark for your business is the high level of protection it offers. Because these marks are so unique, they are less likely to face challenges from competitors or be deemed confusingly similar to existing marks. Fanciful marks also tend to be more memorable and easier to build brand recognition around since they are not associated with any preexisting meaning.
When selecting a trademark for your business, consider the level of distinctiveness and the potential for protection in your chosen industry. Consulting with a trademark attorney can help you navigate the process and ensure that your chosen mark is both legally strong and aligns with your branding goals.
What is TEAS?
TEAS stands for the Trademark Electronic Application System, which is an online platform provided by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to facilitate the electronic filing of trademark applications and related documents. TEAS allows individuals and businesses to apply for federal trademark registration and manage their trademark applications and registrations efficiently.
The TEAS system offers different application forms to accommodate various types of trademark filings, including:
- TEAS Plus: This is the most cost-effective option for applicants who meet specific requirements. It requires applicants to use pre-approved descriptions of goods and services and to select goods or services from a specific list. Additionally, the applicant must agree to use electronic communication and maintain the accuracy of their contact information throughout the process. In return for complying with these requirements, the application fee is lower than other TEAS forms.
- TEAS Reduced Fee (TEAS RF): This form allows applicants to use customized descriptions of goods and services but still provides a reduced filing fee compared to the regular TEAS form.
- TEAS Regular: This form allows for more flexibility in describing goods and services and is suitable for applicants who do not meet the requirements for TEAS Plus or TEAS RF.
- TEAS Renewal Application: For trademark owners seeking to renew their trademark registration.
- TEAS Petition Form: For certain specific petitions, such as requesting the revival of an abandoned application.
Using the TEAS system offers several benefits:
– Convenience: The online platform allows applicants to complete and submit their trademark applications from anywhere with internet access.
– Lower Filing Fees: Choosing the TEAS Plus or TEAS RF form may lead to reduced filing fees compared to paper applications or the TEAS Regular form.
– Faster Processing: Electronic filing typically results in faster processing times compared to paper filings.
– Status Updates: Applicants can easily monitor the status of their applications and receive electronic notifications about important milestones in the application process.
It’s essential to ensure accurate and complete information when using the TEAS system to avoid potential delays or issues with your trademark application. If you have questions or need assistance with the application process, it is advisable to consult with a trademark attorney who can guide you through the process and help ensure your application meets all the necessary legal requirements.
How long does the trademark application process take?
The trademark application process can vary in duration depending on several factors, including the type of application, the basis for filing, the complexity of the mark, and the workload of the trademark office. Generally, the process can be broken down into several stages:
- Filing the Application: The initial step involves preparing and submitting the trademark application. If the application is filed online using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), it can be submitted immediately. The application should include all required information, such as the mark itself, the goods or services associated with the mark, and the basis for filing (actual use or intent-to-use).
- Initial Review and Examination: After filing, the USPTO conducts an initial review to check for completeness and compliance with formal requirements. This review typically takes a few weeks. If any deficiencies are found, the applicant will be notified and given an opportunity to correct them.
- Assigned to an Examining Attorney: Once the application passes the initial review, it is assigned to an examining attorney for substantive examination. The examining attorney will review the application to ensure the mark meets the legal requirements for registration and does not conflict with existing marks. This examination process can take several months, depending on the workload of the USPTO.
- Office Actions: If the examining attorney identifies any issues with the application, they will issue an office action detailing the objections or requirements that must be addressed before the mark can be registered. The applicant has a set period (usually six months) to respond to the office action. The back-and-forth exchange of office actions and responses can add additional months to the application process.
- Publication: If the examining attorney approves the mark for registration, it will be published in the Official Gazette, a weekly publication of the USPTO, for a 30-day period. During this time, third parties can oppose the registration if they believe it may cause confusion with their own marks.
- Registration: If no oppositions are filed or any oppositions are resolved in favor of the applicant, the mark will be registered, and the USPTO will issue a Certificate of Registration. The entire process from filing to registration can take anywhere from 8 months to 18 months or longer, depending on the complexity of the application and any potential delays.
It’s important to note that the timeline provided here is a general estimate and can vary in individual cases. Factors such as an increased number of applications, legal complexities, and potential oppositions can extend the process. Engaging the services of a trademark attorney can help expedite the process, increase the chances of a successful registration, and navigate any potential obstacles along the way.
How long does a trademark last?
Once a trademark is registered, it can potentially last indefinitely as long as certain conditions are met and the owner continues to use and renew the mark properly. Unlike patents or copyrights, which have limited durations, trademarks can provide ongoing protection for as long as they remain in use and are renewed at regular intervals.
In the United States, a registered trademark can remain in force for an initial period of ten years from the date of registration. After the initial ten-year period, the trademark owner can renew the registration indefinitely for successive ten-year periods as long as the mark continues to be used in commerce and meets all legal requirements.
To maintain the trademark registration and ensure its continued protection, the trademark owner must:
- File Renewal Applications: The USPTO requires the trademark owner to file a renewal application within the six-month period before the expiration date of the registration. Failure to submit the renewal application during this window may result in the cancellation of the trademark registration.
- Submit Proof of Continued Use: Along with the renewal application, the trademark owner must submit proof of continued use of the mark in commerce. This evidence, called a “specimen,” shows that the mark is still actively used in connection with the specified goods or services.
- Avoid Abandonment: To maintain a valid and enforceable trademark registration, the mark must not be abandoned. Abandonment can occur if the owner stops using the mark in commerce with no intent to resume use or if the mark becomes generic due to common usage.
- Avoid Non-Use Cancelation: If a registered trademark is not used in commerce for an extended period, it may become vulnerable to non-use cancelation by third parties seeking to have the mark removed from the register.
It’s important for trademark owners to be diligent in monitoring and enforcing their trademark rights to prevent infringement and maintain the mark’s distinctiveness. Continuous and proper use of the mark, along with timely renewal and adherence to all USPTO requirements, ensures that the trademark remains a valuable asset for the business or brand.
Keep in mind that trademark laws and renewal requirements can vary between countries. If you have a trademark registered in multiple jurisdictions, you must comply with the renewal rules of each respective country to maintain your trademark rights globally. Consulting with a trademark attorney can be beneficial in navigating the renewal process and ensuring ongoing protection for your valuable trademark assets.
Can I use a trademark without registering it?
Yes, you can use a trademark without registering it. Trademark rights can be established through common law use, which means that you acquire certain limited rights to a mark simply by using it in connection with your goods or services in the marketplace. Common law rights arise automatically when you use the mark, even if you have not registered it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or any other trademark authority.
There are some key points to consider when using an unregistered trademark:
- Limited Geographic Scope: Common law trademark rights are generally limited to the geographic area where you are using the mark in commerce. This means that your protection will only extend to the region where your business operates and where consumers associate the mark with your goods or services.
- Limited Protection: While common law rights do provide some level of protection against others using a confusingly similar mark in your local area, these rights are not as robust as those obtained through federal registration. Without federal registration, it may be more challenging to enforce your rights against infringing parties in other regions or in online marketplaces that operate nationally.
- Proof of Use: In case of a legal dispute, you may need to provide evidence of your common law use of the mark to establish your rights. This can include examples of marketing materials, advertisements, product packaging, or other materials that demonstrate your use of the mark in commerce.
- Priority of Use: Common law rights are generally based on the principle of “first to use,” which means that the first party to use the mark in commerce in a specific geographic area has priority over others who may try to use a similar mark later.
While using an unregistered trademark is legally permissible, there are significant benefits to federal trademark registration. Registering your trademark with the USPTO provides several advantages:
– Nationwide Protection: Federal registration grants you protection throughout the entire United States, not just in specific regions.
– Presumption of Validity: Registered trademarks are presumed valid, making it easier to enforce your rights against potential infringers.
– Public Notice: Registration puts others on notice of your claim to the mark, potentially deterring others from using a similar mark.
– Incontestability: After a certain period, a registered trademark may become “incontestable,” providing additional legal advantages and strengthening your trademark rights.
– Enhanced Remedies: In case of infringement, a registered trademark allows you to seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees in court.
Ultimately, while common law use is a starting point for trademark protection, federal registration offers more comprehensive and powerful protection for your brand identity. If you anticipate expanding your business or engaging in e-commerce, federal registration is strongly recommended to secure your trademark rights on a broader scale. Consulting with a trademark attorney can help you navigate the registration process and ensure the best strategy for protecting your valuable brand assets.
When should I hire a trademark lawyer?
Hiring a trademark lawyer is highly recommended whenever you are considering registering a trademark or need legal advice related to trademarks. A trademark lawyer can provide valuable assistance and expertise throughout the trademark registration process and beyond. Here are some specific situations where it is beneficial to engage the services of a trademark attorney:
- Trademark Search and Clearance: Before adopting and using a new trademark, it’s crucial to conduct a comprehensive search to ensure that the mark is available and does not infringe upon existing trademarks. A trademark attorney can perform a thorough search and analyze the results to identify potential conflicts and advise you on the best course of action.
- Trademark Application Preparation: Filing a trademark application involves detailed legal and procedural requirements. A trademark lawyer can help you prepare and complete the application accurately, reducing the risk of errors or omissions that could delay or jeopardize the registration process.
- Determining Trademark Classifications: Trademarks are registered under specific classes that correspond to the goods or services they represent. Identifying the appropriate trademark classes can be challenging, but a trademark attorney can assist in determining the most suitable classifications for your mark.
- Responding to Office Actions: If the USPTO raises objections or issues office actions during the examination of your trademark application, a trademark lawyer can help craft a well-reasoned response to address these issues and increase the chances of successful registration.
- Trademark Monitoring and Enforcement: After registration, it’s essential to monitor and enforce your trademark rights to protect against potential infringement. A trademark attorney can help you develop a strategy for monitoring your mark and taking appropriate legal action if infringement is detected.
- Trademark Portfolio Management: For businesses with multiple trademarks, a trademark attorney can assist in managing and maintaining the trademark portfolio, ensuring that all registrations are up to date and that renewals are filed on time.
- International Trademark Protection: If you plan to expand your business internationally, a trademark lawyer can help navigate the complexities of filing for trademark protection in other countries and ensure compliance with foreign trademark laws.
- Trademark Disputes and Litigation: If your trademark rights are infringed upon or if you receive a cease-and-desist letter from another party, a trademark attorney can represent your interests in negotiation and, if necessary, in trademark litigation.
A trademark attorney’s expertise can save you time, money, and potential legal headaches. They have a deep understanding of trademark laws, procedures, and best practices, and can provide valuable guidance in safeguarding and enforcing your valuable brand assets. Whether you are a small business owner or a large corporation, consulting with a trademark lawyer is a wise investment in protecting and maximizing the value of your brand identity.
What is a trademark’s specimen?
A trademark specimen is a crucial component of the trademark application process, particularly for trademarks used in connection with goods or services. It serves as evidence to demonstrate how the mark is actually used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods or services associated with the mark.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) requires applicants to submit an acceptable specimen as part of their trademark application to establish that the mark is in use and not merely an idea or intention for future use. The specimen provides tangible proof that the mark is being used in a real commercial context.
Here are some essential points to understand about trademarks specimens:
- Types of Specimens: The type of specimen required depends on whether the mark is used in connection with goods or services:
– For goods: Acceptable specimens include labels, tags, packaging, product displays, photographs showing the mark on the goods, or a webpage displaying the mark associated with the goods being sold.
– For services: Acceptable specimens include advertising materials, brochures, business cards, signage, or a webpage displaying the mark in connection with the services offered.
- Acceptable Format: The specimen must show the mark as it appears to consumers when they encounter the goods or services in the marketplace. It should be clear and legible, and the mark must be in the same stylization and design as presented in the trademark application.
- Actual Use vs. Intent-to-Use: If the application is based on actual use of the mark in commerce, the applicant must submit a specimen showing current use of the mark. However, if the application is based on “intent-to-use,” a specimen is not required at the time of filing, but it will be necessary later during the “Statement of Use” process to demonstrate actual use before the mark is registered.
- Digital Specimens: With the growing prevalence of online commerce, digital specimens have become common and acceptable. Webpages displaying the mark in connection with the goods or services can serve as electronic specimens.
- Distinctive Usage: The specimen should clearly show that the mark is used in a distinctive manner to identify the source of the goods or services. Merely using the mark as a decorative or ornamental feature is generally insufficient.
- Consistency with Goods or Services Description: The specimen should match the goods or services description provided in the trademark application. It should show how the mark is used in connection with the identified goods or services.
Submitting an appropriate and valid specimen is critical for the successful registration of a trademark. Incorrect or inadequate specimens can lead to delays or rejection of the application. Consulting with a trademark attorney can ensure that you select and submit the correct specimen that best represents your mark’s use in commerce, increasing the chances of a successful trademark registration.
Can I request an expedited approval of my trademark registration?
Yes, in certain circumstances, you can request an expedited approval of your trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO offers two programs that allow for accelerated processing of trademark applications:
- TEAS Plus: Priority Mail Express® (formerly TEAS RF): If you meet the requirements for the TEAS Plus form and choose the Priority Mail Express® option, your application will receive expedited processing. The TEAS Plus form requires you to use pre-approved descriptions of goods and services and select goods or services from a specific list. Additionally, you must agree to use electronic communication and maintain accurate contact information throughout the process.
- TEAS Reduced Fee (TEAS RF) with an Extra Fee for Expedited Processing: If you qualify for TEAS RF and are willing to pay an additional fee, you can request expedited processing. Like TEAS RF, you can use customized descriptions of goods and services, but the overall filing fee is higher than TEAS Plus.
It’s important to note that the expedited processing option is subject to certain limitations and does not guarantee that your application will be approved faster than the standard processing times. The expedited processing primarily expedites the initial review and examination stages, but it does not bypass the substantive examination process or other necessary steps for trademark registration.
Additionally, expedited processing does not necessarily result in a quicker overall processing time if the application encounters issues that require additional time to address. The expedited processing option is suitable for applicants who seek faster initial feedback from the USPTO and want to accelerate the early stages of the application process.
When considering expedited processing, it’s crucial to ensure that your application is complete, accurate, and meets all the requirements for the selected form. Any errors or deficiencies in the application can lead to delays, regardless of the expedited processing option.
If you are uncertain whether to request expedited processing or if your application qualifies for these programs, consulting with a trademark attorney can be beneficial. A trademark attorney can guide you through the application process, help determine the best form to use, and ensure that your application meets all necessary legal requirements.
Can I trademark a phrase?
Yes, you can trademark a phrase under certain conditions. Trademarks protect words, phrases, symbols, logos, and other distinctive elements that identify and distinguish the source of goods or services. When it comes to trademarking a phrase, there are important considerations to keep in mind:
Distinctiveness: To be eligible for trademark protection, the phrase must be distinctive and not merely descriptive of the goods or services it represents. There are four categories of distinctiveness for trademarks, ranked from strongest to weakest: fanciful, arbitrary, suggestive, and descriptive. Fanciful and arbitrary phrases are the easiest to trademark, while descriptive phrases may be eligible for protection if they have acquired secondary meaning through long-term use.
Infringement: Before applying for a trademark, it’s crucial to conduct a comprehensive search to ensure that the phrase is not already in use by another party for related goods or services. If a similar or identical phrase is already registered or in use, it may lead to a likelihood of confusion, which can prevent the registration of your trademark.
Goods or Services: The phrase must be used in connection with specific goods or services to be eligible for trademark protection. The goods or services should be clearly identified and associated with the phrase in the trademark application.
Specimen of Use: Like any trademark, a phrase used to identify goods must be accompanied by an acceptable specimen showing how the phrase is used in commerce. For services, the specimen could be an advertisement, brochure, website screenshot, or other materials that demonstrate the phrase’s use in connection with the offered services.
Geographical Limitations: Trademark rights are generally limited to the geographic area where the mark is used in commerce. If you only use the phrase in a specific region, your protection may be limited to that area.
Intent-to-Use Application: If you have not yet started using the phrase in commerce but have a bona fide intent to do so, you can file an “Intent-to-Use” (ITU) application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This type of application allows you to reserve the rights to the phrase while you prepare to use it in commerce. However, you must eventually provide proof of actual use before the mark is registered.
Filing a trademark application for a phrase can be complex, and the success of the application depends on factors like distinctiveness, prior usage, and proper classification of goods or services. Consulting with a trademark attorney can be advantageous, as they can guide you through the application process, help you navigate potential challenges, and increase your chances of obtaining a successful trademark registration for your phrase.
Can I trademark a logo?
Yes, you can trademark a logo to protect its design as a distinctive identifier of your goods or services. Registering a logo as a trademark provides valuable legal protection, preventing others from using a similar or confusingly similar design in connection with related goods or services. Here are important considerations when trademarking a logo:
Distinctiveness: Like any trademark, the logo must be distinctive and capable of identifying the source of goods or services. Fanciful, arbitrary, or suggestive logos are generally easier to register because they are inherently distinctive. Descriptive logos may be eligible for protection if they have acquired secondary meaning through long-term use.
Description of the Logo: When applying for a trademark, you will need to provide a clear and accurate description of the logo’s design elements. This description helps the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) understand the unique aspects of the logo that you are seeking to protect.
Specimen of Use: Along with the application, you must submit an acceptable specimen showing the logo’s actual use in commerce. The specimen could be product packaging, labels, advertisements, or any other materials that display the logo in connection with the goods or services.
Classes of Goods or Services: The logo should be associated with specific goods or services, and you must select the appropriate classes that match the nature of your business. These classes define the scope of protection for your logo.
Distinctive Color: If the logo’s color is essential to its distinctiveness and branding, you can consider registering the logo as a “color mark.” However, bear in mind that color marks may receive more stringent examination to prove distinctiveness.
Protection of Design Elements: Registering the logo as a trademark protects the specific design elements that make it unique. However, the protection does not extend to all uses of the design. For instance, if the logo is a wordmark combined with a distinctive stylized font, the protection only covers that particular stylized font and not all possible fonts.
Geographic Coverage: Trademark rights are generally limited to the geographic area where the mark is used in commerce. If you use the logo only in a specific region, your protection may be limited to that area.
Working with a trademark attorney can be highly beneficial when seeking to trademark a logo. They can assist in conducting a comprehensive search to ensure there are no conflicting logos, help prepare the application with the necessary details and classifications, and navigate the USPTO’s examination process. Registering your logo as a trademark provides essential legal protection, enhances your brand identity, and strengthens your ability to enforce your rights against potential infringers.
Can I trademark a color?
Yes, under certain circumstances, you can trademark a color as a distinctive identifier of your goods or services. However, obtaining a trademark for a color can be more challenging than for other types of trademarks, and the requirements are stringent. Trademarking a color involves demonstrating that the color has acquired “secondary meaning” and is uniquely associated with your brand in the minds of consumers.
Here are important considerations when seeking to trademark a color:
Distinctiveness: The color must be inherently distinctive or have acquired distinctiveness through extensive and exclusive use in commerce. Colors that are commonly used in an industry to identify a particular type of product or service are generally not eligible for trademark protection.
Secondary Meaning: To successfully trademark a color, you must show that consumers recognize the color as identifying your goods or services, rather than merely serving a functional or decorative purpose. This is known as “secondary meaning,” and it can be established through factors such as long-term and exclusive use of the color, significant advertising efforts, and consumer surveys showing brand association with the color.
Single Color vs. Color Combination: It is generally easier to trademark a single color used in a unique and distinctive way rather than a combination of colors. The use of a single color in a specific context makes it more likely to be perceived as a brand identifier.
Goods or Services: The color should be associated with specific goods or services, and you must select the appropriate classes that match the nature of your business. The registration will only cover the color’s use in connection with the identified goods or services.
Description of the Color: When applying for a trademark, you will need to provide a precise description of the color and how it is used in connection with the goods or services.
Specimen of Use: Along with the application, you must submit an acceptable specimen showing the color’s actual use in commerce. The specimen could be product packaging, labels, advertisements, or any other materials that display the color in connection with the goods or services.
Geographic Coverage: Trademark rights for a color are generally limited to the geographic area where the color is used in commerce.
Because obtaining a color trademark can be complex, it is advisable to consult with a trademark attorney who has experience in handling color trademark applications. They can guide you through the process, help gather the necessary evidence to demonstrate secondary meaning, and increase the likelihood of successfully obtaining a color trademark for your brand.
Can I transfer my trademark to someone else?
Yes, you can transfer your trademark to someone else through a process called trademark assignment. Trademark assignment involves the transfer of ownership of the trademark rights from one party (the assignor) to another party (the assignee). The assignment can be either the transfer of the entire trademark registration or the transfer of specific rights associated with the mark, such as the right to use the mark in connection with certain goods or services.
Here are some essential points to understand about trademark assignment:
Voluntary Transfer: Trademark assignment is typically a voluntary transaction, meaning that both the assignor and the assignee must agree to the transfer. The assignor may choose to transfer the mark due to various reasons, such as selling a business, merging with another company, or simply deciding to no longer use the mark.
Written Agreement: To effectuate a trademark assignment, the parties must execute a written agreement that clearly states the terms of the assignment, including details about the mark, the rights being transferred, any associated goodwill, and the consideration (payment) for the transfer, if applicable.
Recording with USPTO: While the assignment is valid between the parties involved, it is advisable to record the assignment with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Recording the assignment provides public notice of the transfer and establishes a legal record of the change in ownership.
Assignment of Intent-to-Use Applications: It is important to note that intent-to-use (ITU) trademark applications can also be assigned before the mark is officially registered. The assignment of an ITU application should be filed with the USPTO before the mark is used in commerce and must comply with the USPTO’s specific requirements.
Geographic Coverage: The transfer of trademark rights is generally limited to the geographic area where the mark is used in commerce. If the mark is only used in a specific region, the assignment may only apply to that area.
License vs. Assignment: It’s essential to distinguish between trademark assignment and trademark licensing. In an assignment, ownership of the mark is transferred entirely to the assignee. In contrast, a license grants permission to use the mark while the ownership remains with the licensor.
Trademark assignment can be a complex legal process, and it is crucial to ensure that the assignment agreement complies with all legal requirements. Consulting with a trademark attorney is highly recommended to draft and execute a valid assignment agreement, properly record the assignment with the USPTO, and ensure that the transfer of rights is legally binding and effective.
Can I license my trademark to others?
Yes, you can license your trademark to others through a trademark licensing agreement. Trademark licensing allows you, as the trademark owner (licensor), to grant permission to another party (licensee) to use your trademark in connection with specific goods or services and under certain conditions. Licensing can be a valuable business strategy that allows you to generate additional revenue, expand your brand’s reach, and maintain quality control over the use of your mark.
Here are some important considerations when licensing your trademark:
Written Agreement: A trademark licensing agreement should be a written contract that outlines the terms and conditions of the license. The agreement should include details such as the scope of the license (specific goods or services covered), the geographic territory where the mark can be used, the duration of the license, quality control standards, and any royalty or fee arrangements.
Quality Control: As the trademark owner, you have a responsibility to maintain the quality and reputation of your mark. The licensing agreement should include provisions that allow you to exercise quality control over the licensee’s use of the mark. This ensures that the mark is used in a manner consistent with your brand’s image and maintains its distinctiveness.
Record Keeping: It’s essential to keep accurate records of the licensing agreement, including the licensee’s information, the scope of the license, and any royalty payments received. These records can be helpful in case of any disputes or if you need to enforce your rights in the future.
Geographic Limitations: You can choose to license your trademark for use in specific geographic regions or globally, depending on your business strategy and the market you wish to target.
Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive License: You can grant an exclusive license, which means that only the licensee has the right to use the mark in the specified area or for the designated goods or services. Alternatively, you can grant a non-exclusive license, allowing you to license the mark to multiple parties simultaneously.
Revocable License: It is essential to include a provision in the agreement that allows you, as the licensor, to terminate or revoke the license under certain circumstances, such as the licensee’s failure to comply with the terms of the agreement or improper use of the mark.
Protecting Your Rights: While licensing can be beneficial, it is crucial to carefully choose licensees and monitor their use of the mark to ensure it aligns with your brand’s values and reputation. Regular communication with licensees and periodic audits can help safeguard your trademark rights.
Creating a well-drafted trademark licensing agreement is a complex legal process. Consulting with a trademark attorney is highly recommended to draft a comprehensive and enforceable licensing agreement, protect your trademark rights, and ensure that the licensing arrangement benefits your business in the long term.
If my trademark is registered in the United States, is it protected in other countries as well?
No, a trademark registration in the United States only provides protection within the borders of the United States. Trademark rights are generally territorial, which means that each country has its own trademark laws, and registration in one country does not automatically extend protection to other countries.
If you want to protect your trademark in other countries, you will need to file separate trademark applications in each country where you seek protection. This process is commonly known as international trademark registration or trademark registration in foreign jurisdictions.
There are two primary ways to seek trademark protection in other countries:
- National Applications: You can file individual trademark applications in each country where you want to obtain protection. This means preparing and submitting separate applications in accordance with each country’s trademark laws and procedures. This approach can be time-consuming and costly, especially if you want to protect your mark in multiple countries.
- International Trademark Systems: Some international agreements and systems facilitate the process of obtaining trademark protection in multiple countries through a single application. The most well-known system is the Madrid System, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Madrid System allows you to file an international application through your home country’s trademark office (known as the “office of origin”), designating other member countries where you seek protection. The application is then examined and registered in each designated country based on their national laws.
It’s important to note that the level of protection and the requirements for trademark registration can vary significantly from one country to another. Additionally, the process for obtaining international trademark protection can be complex, and there may be specific deadlines and formalities to comply with.
To navigate the international trademark registration process successfully, it is advisable to work with a trademark attorney who is familiar with international trademark laws and procedures. A trademark attorney can help you determine the best strategy for protecting your mark globally, handle the necessary filings, and ensure that your trademark rights are secure in the countries where you conduct business or plan to expand your brand.
Is there such a thing as an “International Trademark”?
While there is no single “International Trademark” that provides protection worldwide, there are international agreements and systems in place that facilitate the process of obtaining trademark protection in multiple countries through a single application. These mechanisms are designed to simplify the process of seeking protection in various countries, making it more efficient and cost-effective for trademark owners.
The two main international systems for trademark registration are:
- Madrid System: The Madrid System, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), allows trademark owners to file an international application through their home country’s trademark office (known as the “office of origin”). This international application designates other member countries where the applicant seeks protection. The international application is based on the applicant’s existing national or regional trademark application or registration. Each designated country then reviews the application based on its national laws and decides whether to grant protection for the mark.
- European Union Trademark (EUTM) System: The EUTM system allows trademark owners to obtain protection in all current member states of the European Union (EU) through a single application. This system is especially useful for businesses seeking to protect their marks across multiple EU countries with a single registration.
It’s important to understand that while these international systems streamline the application process, the trademark is still subject to examination and approval by each individual country or region where protection is sought. Each country’s trademark office reviews the application based on its own laws and regulations, and there is no centralized international authority that grants a single trademark right covering the entire world.
When applying through international systems, it’s essential to carefully consider the countries or regions where you want to obtain protection. Not all countries are members of these international systems, so if you wish to protect your mark in non-member countries, you may need to file separate national applications in those jurisdictions.
Additionally, international trademark registration can be a complex process, involving specific requirements and formalities for each country. Consulting with a trademark attorney experienced in international trademark law can be beneficial to navigate the process, ensure compliance with the various regulations, and effectively protect your trademark rights in multiple countries or regions.
What is a trademark office action?
A trademark office action is an official communication issued by the trademark examining attorney at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in response to a trademark application. It outlines any issues, objections, or deficiencies identified during the examination of the application. The purpose of the office action is to inform the applicant of the USPTO’s initial findings and to give the applicant an opportunity to address and resolve any problems with the application.
There are two main types of office actions:
- Non-Final Office Action: This type of office action is issued early in the examination process, typically after the initial review of the application. It may include objections or requirements related to the mark’s distinctiveness, description of goods or services, or technical deficiencies in the application. The applicant is given a period of time (usually six months) to respond to the non-final office action by addressing the USPTO’s concerns or providing additional information.
- Final Office Action: If the applicant’s response to a non-final office action does not fully resolve the USPTO’s concerns, a final office action may be issued. The final office action restates the USPTO’s objections and indicates that the application will be abandoned if the issues are not addressed. The applicant is given a final opportunity to respond and overcome the objections within a specified timeframe (usually six months).
Common reasons for receiving an office action include:
– Likelihood of Confusion: The examining attorney may find that the proposed mark is likely to be confused with an existing registered mark or a pending application.
– Descriptiveness or Genericness: The mark may be considered descriptive or generic, lacking the required distinctiveness to function as a trademark.
– Improper Identification of Goods or Services: The description of the goods or services associated with the mark may be unclear or too broad.
– Specimen Deficiencies: The specimen provided to demonstrate the mark’s use in commerce may not meet the USPTO’s requirements.
– Formalities: The application may contain procedural errors or omissions that need to be corrected.
Addressing the issues raised in an office action is crucial for the successful registration of the trademark. Failure to respond or adequately resolve the USPTO’s concerns may result in the abandonment of the application. Working with a trademark attorney during the response process can increase the likelihood of overcoming objections and obtaining a favorable outcome for your trademark application.
What should I do if I receive an office action on my trademark application?
Receiving an office action on your trademark application does not necessarily mean that your application will be rejected. It is a standard part of the trademark registration process, and many applications encounter issues that need to be addressed. If you receive an office action, here are the steps you should take to respond and move forward with your trademark application:
- Review the Office Action Carefully: Take the time to read the office action thoroughly and understand the USPTO’s specific objections or requirements. Pay close attention to the reasons cited for any rejections or deficiencies in your application.
- Consult with a Trademark Attorney: Consider consulting with a trademark attorney who can review the office action, explain the issues in detail, and provide guidance on how to respond effectively. A trademark attorney can help you craft a well-reasoned and persuasive response to overcome the USPTO’s concerns.
- Address the USPTO’s Concerns: Based on the specific issues raised in the office action, make the necessary revisions or amendments to your application. This may include amending the description of goods or services, providing additional evidence of use, or clarifying the distinctiveness of the mark.
- Submit a Comprehensive Response: Your response to the office action should be thorough and comprehensive. Clearly address each of the USPTO’s objections and provide supporting arguments or evidence to strengthen your position.
- Be Timely: Office actions have response deadlines (typically six months for non-final actions). Make sure to submit your response within the specified timeframe to avoid abandonment of your application.
- Consider Seeking Amendments or Disclaimers: In some cases, you may need to amend the mark or disclaim certain elements to address the USPTO’s concerns. A trademark attorney can advise you on the best approach.
- Proof of Use: If your application is based on actual use in commerce, ensure that you provide an acceptable specimen of use that meets the USPTO’s requirements.
- Finalize Your Response: Before submitting your response, carefully review all the changes and supporting documentation to ensure accuracy and completeness.
- Follow Up: After submitting your response, monitor the status of your application on the USPTO’s website. The examining attorney will review your response and either approve the mark for publication or issue a final office action if further issues remain.
Receiving an office action is a normal part of the trademark application process, and with proper attention and a well-prepared response, many issues can be resolved successfully. Working with a trademark attorney can significantly improve your chances of overcoming any objections and obtaining registration for your trademark.
How do I enforce my trademark rights?
Enforcing your trademark rights is essential to protect your brand identity, reputation, and market position. Trademark enforcement involves taking appropriate legal action against individuals or businesses that infringe upon your trademark rights or engage in unauthorized use of your mark. Here are the key steps to enforce your trademark rights effectively:
- Monitor and Detect Infringement: Regularly monitor the marketplace for any unauthorized use or infringement of your trademark. This can be done through online searches, monitoring services, market surveys, and customer feedback. Prompt detection of potential infringement allows you to take timely action.
- Gather Evidence: If you suspect infringement, collect evidence of the unauthorized use of your mark. This may include screenshots, photographs, product samples, advertisements, or any other materials that demonstrate the infringing use.
- Send a Cease-and-Desist Letter: Start by sending a formal cease-and-desist letter to the infringing party. The letter should clearly state your trademark rights, the infringing activities, and demand that the infringer immediately stop using your mark. Mention that legal action will be taken if they fail to comply.
- Negotiate: In some cases, the infringing party may be unaware of the infringement or may be willing to cooperate after receiving the cease-and-desist letter. Open communication and negotiation may lead to a resolution without the need for legal action.
- File a Lawsuit: If the infringing party refuses to comply or if the infringement continues, you may need to file a trademark infringement lawsuit in federal court. A trademark lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to stop the infringing use, damages, and, in some cases, attorneys’ fees.
- Prove Trademark Ownership and Use: To succeed in a trademark infringement lawsuit, you will need to demonstrate that you are the rightful owner of the trademark and that you have been actively using the mark in commerce. This requires providing evidence of your trademark registration and proof of continuous and consistent use.
- Establish Likelihood of Confusion: In a trademark infringement case, you must show that the infringing use is likely to cause confusion among consumers regarding the source of the goods or services. This involves demonstrating the similarities between the infringing mark and your registered mark and the relatedness of the goods or services.
- Enforce Internationally: If your trademark is registered in multiple countries, you may need to enforce your rights in each jurisdiction separately. Consult with trademark attorneys in relevant countries to ensure proper enforcement.
Trademark enforcement can be complex and involves legal procedures and strategies. Working with a trademark attorney experienced in intellectual property law is crucial to navigate the enforcement process successfully. A skilled attorney can help you assess the strength of your case, guide you through negotiations or litigation, and protect your valuable trademark rights effectively.
What is a descriptive trademark?
Descriptive trademarks are those that only describe a feature or a characteristic of your goods or services. Descriptive trademarks are weak trademarks and not acceptable under USPTO standards.
For example, none these would be accepted by the USPTO.
- “Creamy” for a brand of yogurt
- “Salty” for a brand of potato chips
- “Sweet” for a brand of jam.
Those words should be available to all manufacturers of those products.
What is a clearance search?
A clearance search is the best way to determine if your desired trademark is available for use, or if someone else already trademarked something similar.
A clearance search has two parts:
- Knock-out search: This is a check of the Federal Trademark records which will reveal if there’s a mark already in existence that’s similar to yours.
- A full search: This part of the search checks state trademark registrations, common law sources, and internet sources.
For best results, hire a trademark attorney to conduct a comprehensive clearance search on your behalf.
Is my federally registered trademark valid outside of the United States?
Your federally registered trademark is only valid within the 50 Unites States and territories of the United States, such as Guam. If you want to protect your trademark in countries outside of the United States, then consult with a trademark lawyer for advice.
I’ve submitted my trademark application. Can I check on its status?
After your trademark application is submitted to the USPTO, you’ll receive a serial number, you’ll get a serial number. If you visit the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval System (TSDR) and enter your serial number when prompted, you’ll receive an update on the status of your application. Or, you may contact the Trademark Assistance Center at 800-786-9199 and ask about the status of your application.
What are the benefits of hiring a trademark attorney?
The following list includes just a few of the many benefits of hiring a trademark attorney. Your trademark attorney will:
- Conduct a trademark clearance search.
- Prepare and submit your trademark application to the USPTO.
- Respond to inquiries and office actions from the USPTO.
- Take action against anyone infringing on your trademark rights.
- File trademark maintenance documents by the required deadlines.
- Provide ongoing legal advice and guidance about your intellectual property.
- Represent you in court.
How does registering my trademark help me protect my business?
Once you have a registered trademark, your mark gains what is known as the “presumption of nationwide validity.” That means, your trademark certificate is all the proof you need to show that you are the rightful owner of the trademark. There’s no need to provide copious amounts of evidence.
What is the Trademark Official Gazette?
The Trademark Official Gazette is an online publication put out by the USPTO on a weekly basis. After your trademark application is approved by an examining attorney, your mark will be published in the Trademark Official Gazette for a 30-day Opposition Period.
During those 30 days, anyone who believes that approval of your trademark will harm their business interests may come forward and file a Notice of Opposition. The dispute will be settled by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB).
However, if no one opposes the mark within the 30-day Opposition Period, then your trademark moves to the final stages of approval.
Why Trademark Registration Matters for Ann Arbor Businesses
Diverse, cosmopolitan, but also laid-back, Ann Arbor, Michigan is a city buzzing with energy. It’s home to five colleges and universities including Concordia University and the University of Michigan. Smart entrepreneurs see the opportunities for success in Ann Arbor.
While Ann Arbor business owners prefer to do the work involved with opening their businesses themselves, they should hire trademark attorneys to help them protect their trademark rights.
Imagine the following: Jenny and Seth are both Alumni of the University of Michigan who have always kept in touch. Now, the two friends want to start their wine bar in downtown Ann Arbor.
They scout the area and find the perfect location in the Kerrytown neighborhood of Ann Arbor and sign the lease. They decide that they want to call their new venture The Tasty Grape. While they both love the name, they need to make sure that no one else is using it. Seth suggests they conduct a Google search. However, Jenny insists that they hire a trademark attorney who can conduct a thorough clearance search.
After a week, the two friends received good news from the attorney. No one else had trademarked the name or anything similar. The attorney then prepared the trademark application and submitted it to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Six months later, The Tasty Grape is finally open and Jenny and Seth are enjoying their new venture. Their wine bar is definitely the new hot spot in town. One day, they get a call from their trademark attorney. It turns out that there’s a new website that sells wine with a very similar name to Jenny and Seth’s business.
Since Jenny and Seth own the trademark, their lawyer sends a cease-and-desist letter to the owners of the wine website asking them to shut down the site and not reopen until they’ve got a new name. The lawyer even threatens legal action if they don’t comply within 30 days. Three weeks later, Jenny and Seth visit the site and find that it’s been taken down.
Remember, it’s simply not good enough to search for your desired trademark using a Google search. To be absolutely sure that the trademark you want is available for use, you must work with a trademark attorney who can conduct a full clearance search on your behalf and protect your mark against infringement.
If you have questions about trademark registration, then contact the attorneys at Cohn Legal for a no-cost trademark consultation.
** Cohn Legal, PLLC is not located in Ann Arbor and yet it can assist businesses from Michigan in registering a federal Trademark because trademarks are governed under federal law.
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