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for Chicago IL
Chicago, Illinois Businesses Use Cohn Legal for Trademark Services
*Cohn Legal, PLLC is not located in Chicago and yet it can assist businesses from Illinois in registering a federal Trademark because trademarks are governed under federal law.
Serving clients in Chicago, Illinois, Cohn Legal is a firm focusing on intellectual property rights and trademarks. Cohn Legal counsels national and international clients on all matters related to intellectual property and how to protect their brands against infringement.
Top 9 Questions Chicago Businesses Have About Obtaining a Trademark
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is simply a word, phrase, logo, design, or even a sound that identifies a company. Companies use trademarks so consumers know who manufactures a product in a certain category of goods.
For example, think of the canned soup aisle in the grocery store. It’s all soup, but the trademark-protected names and logos on the cans that enable you to quickly identify the brands of the soup such as Campbell’s, Progresso, Amy’s Organic, etc.
What is the USPTO?
The USPTO stands for the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In order to register a trademark, you’ll need to submit an application to the USPTO. An examining attorney at the USPTO will evaluate the application and determine if your desired trademark is either eligible for approval or ineligible for approval.
Will the USPTO help me protect my trademark?
The USPTO registers and keeps records of all federal trademarks. If someone applies for a mark that’s similar to one you’ve already registered, there’s a high probability that the USPTO won’t allow it.
Beyond that, it’s up to you, not the USPTO, to monitor the marketplace to ensure that no one is infringing upon your registered trademark. If you do suspect infringement, then you need to consult with a trademark attorney and take legal action.
What’s the difference between “in commerce” and “intent to use”?
The trademark application that you file with the USPTO will ask if your desired trademark is “in commerce,” which means you’re already using it to sell goods and services in the market. If you’re not using it yet, but are going to in the near future, then you would indicate that you have the “intent to use” a mark.
Do I need to conduct a trademark search before filing my application?
There’s no law about conducting a trademark search before filing an application, but any trademark attorney will recommend that you do. You can gain access to search the USPTO database to make sure that no one has a mark that’s similar to yours. It can be frustrating to find that a trademark similar to the one you want already exists. However, it’s better to find out before you start investing in signage, brochures, digital advertising, etc. Knowing you have a unique trademark means that you can invest in your business and your brand with confidence.
I’ve been selling my product for 5 years with no registered trademark. Is there a reason to do it now?
Having a registered trademark is not a pre-requisite for selling products. You can start selling a product or service anytime you want. However, whether you’ve been in business for 5 days, 5 months, or 5 years, it’s in your best interest to protect your intellectual property with a registered trademark.
In fact, it’s even more important to register your trademark if you’ve been selling items successfully for years. Without trademark protection, a competitor can start using your branding to “ride the coattails” of your success by selling a similar product. This could cause confusion in the marketplace and damage your reputation.
No matter how long you’ve been in business, take the proper steps to ensure that your trademark is properly protected against infringement.
How long does a trademark last?
The good news is that once you get a trademark, you’ll have it forever as long as you continue to use it and you keep up with renewals every 5 years for the first decade of the mark and every 10 years thereafter. The renewal process isn’t difficult, but if you ignore a deadline, then you may run the risk of having your trademark expire.
What happens if my trademark application is rejected?
If your trademark application is rejected, then you’ll receive an Office Action. An Office Action is basically a letter stating the reasons why your trademark registration application was rejected.
The reasons why your application may be rejected may include:
- Your desired mark or something similar to it is already in use.
- Your desired mark is too generic.
- Your application may be missing pertinent information.
It can be overwhelming to receive an Office Action. A trademark attorney will be able to advise you on your best response to the USPTO.
I’ve already submitted an application to the USPTO. Is it too late to hire a trademark attorney?
The earlier you hire a trademark attorney, the better it is. However, it’s really never too late to hire a trademark attorney. If you’ve already submitted an application, then your attorney can advise you on how to handle possible rejections, or give advice on how to protect other pieces of intellectual property. If your trademark application is approved, then your attorney can help monitor the marketplace for any infringements of your trademark.
Additional Information on Trademark Registration for Chicago Businesses
If you’re setting up a new business in the Windy City, then you need to make sure you seek the advice of a trademark attorney right away.
A trademark attorney has the skills and knowledge to research, select, and register your trademark, and stop others from using names or logos that are similar to yours and could confuse your customers.
Consider this scenario. Jessica opens up a hip, new clothing boutique near Lincoln Park called “Eclectic Threads.” She didn’t seek the advice of a trademark attorney to protect the name of her new store, which opens the door to several legal issues.
What Jessica didn’t realize was that there was a small clothing store chain in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut using the name “Eclectic Threads” and the owner registered the trademark with the USPTO.
Jessica already purchased thousands of dollars in marketing materials, customized labels for the apparel in her shop, and a very expensive sign to hang over the door. The owner of the east coast stores would be well within his rights to send a cease-and-desist letter to Jessica and file a lawsuit in order to protect his trademark rights. Jessica would almost certainly be required to change the name of her store, destroy her existing stock of marketing materials, take down the sign, and rebrand.
This would be devastating to any new business. If Jessica had consulted with a trademark attorney right from the start, she would have known the risks of using the name Eclectic Threads. Her attorney could have devised a strategy to help her get the trademark she wanted or choose something else. All-in-all she would have saved herself thousands of dollars and countless hours in re-branding.
With a registered trademark, a company can protect its trademark against infringers and ensure that the money spent on promoting the brand is not wasted. Cohn Legal works with businesses of all sizes to ensure their trademarks are protected. Contact us today to learn more about trademark registration.
Trademarks Services for Chicago 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.