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Birmingham, Alabama Businesses Use Cohn Legal for Trademark Services
Cohn Legal, PLLC is a boutique law firm focused on providing clients in Birmingham, Alabama and all 50 states with outstanding legal guidance on trademark and intellectual property rights. Our trademark attorneys absolutely love helping companies create and protect their brand names and logos. Whether you need help with trademark prosecutions, transactional work, or startup concerns, we’re here for you.
Top 5 Questions Birmingham Businesses Have About Obtaining a Trademark
What is a trademark vs. a service mark?
A trademark is any word, phrase, logo, design, sound, and/or any combination of these things that lets consumers know the source of a particular good. Coca-Cola® is a widely known example of a trademark.
A service mark is any word, phrase, logo, design, sound, and/or any combination of these things that lets consumers know the source of a particular service. For example, Roto-Rooter® is a service mark because that company provides a service, not a product.
If I trademark a word, does that mean I own the rights to that word?
One of the more common misconceptions is that owning a trademark means you own the word. However, as a trademark owner, you only have the right to use the word in connection with your products or services.
For example, if you trademarked the name Bluebird Graphics for your small business, no one else could use that name for a similar business. But you don’t own the rights to the word “bluebird” in all instances.
What is “proof of use”?
Sometimes, the USPTO will request “proof of use.” Proof of use refers to evidence that shows your trademark or service mark is being used in commerce with the goods and/or services that appear on your trademark registration documents.
Examples of proof of use for goods include:
- Photos of your trademark on a product label.
- Screenshots of web pages that show the trademark along with the site’s URL.
- Photos of your trademark on the packaging, if your product is visible through the packaging
- Photos of your trademark on the packaging, if the packaging also lists the generic name of the goods included in the package.
Examples of proof of use for services include:
- Brochures or flyers used for advertising.
- Photos of the service mark on the retail store or restaurant signage.
- Photos of the service mark on service vehicles.
- Screenshots of web pages that show the service mark along with the site’s URL.
Should I conduct a trademark search before submitting my application?
You should absolutely conduct a thorough trademark search before you file a trademark application with the USPTO. The main reason to do this is to find out if there are any marks already out there that are similar to your desired mark.
If you were to submit an application without doing a search, then you run the risk of the USPTO finding a mark that’s similar to yours and rejecting your application. Not only do you lose the application fee, but you also have to start from scratch to develop a new mark.
Your best bet is to hire a trademark attorney who can help you conduct a trademark search before filing your trademark application.
Can I register a mark that’s not in commerce yet?
You can register your trademark on an “intent to use” basis if it’s not in commerce yet. Along with the trademark application, you’ll need to submit proof of your bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce. For example, a business plan or product prototypes are acceptable as proof of your intent to use the mark.
Once your mark is approved, you’ll have 6 months to provide the USPTO with evidence that your mark is in commerce. If you are still not ready to open your business, you may also file a 6-month extension. You can file up to 5 extensions.
Why Trademark Registration Matters for Birmingham Businesses
Nicknamed the “Magic City,” Birmingham, Alabama’s modern economy is centered around three booming industries: medical research, banking, and hospitality. The city also boasts world-class dining, a hip downtown area, plenty of green spaces, and was named one of the most livable cities in the nation.
It’s no wonder that entrepreneurs are flocking to Birmingham to start their new ventures. These small business owners tend to be budget-conscious when first starting out. Keeping costs low is a good thing, but they should still keep the room in their budget for trademark registration.
Imagine the following: Sydney is a recent graduate of the University of Alabama and played for their lacrosse team all four years. He knows lacrosse is a popular sport in the area and sees the need for a shop that sells high-quality lacrosse gear.
Sydney decides to take a chance and start his own business. He finds a storefront for sale in downtown Birmingham and signs the lease. He decides to call his new shop Leftside Lacrosse and gets straight to work. Sydney develops a business plan, creates marketing materials, orders inventory, creates a website, and more. He considers trademark registration, but he’s trying to keep costs down. He figures that he can put that off for a while.
Leftside Lacrosse is now open and business is booming. College and high school players from Birmingham and neighboring towns come to get new gear. Parents bring their younger children in for beginner-level equipment. Things couldn’t be going better.
Unfortunately, Sydney is about to get some bad news in the form of a cease-and-desist letter. It turns out that there’s an online lacrosse shop that has a similar name to Sydney’s store. The letter explains that they own the trademark to the name. They are demanding that Sydney shut down operations immediately and not reopen until he’s changed the name of his store. That will be an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Sydney is understandably devastated and feels overwhelmed by the entire situation. He decides to call a trademark attorney for advice.
Putting off trademark registration may seem like a good way to save money when starting a new venture. In reality, trademark registration is the one thing you don’t want to skip. Not having a trademark could ultimately cost you more money in the long run.
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 Birmingham and yet it can assist businesses from Alabama in registering a federal Trademark because trademarks are governed under federal law.
Trademarks Services for Birmingham Businesses
Submit Your Trademark
Now in 4 Easy Steps
Complete the Trademark Registration Form.
Our IP Attorneys will run a search of your trademark in the USPTO.
We draft your TM Application and send it to you for your Review.
We File the Application with the USPTO.