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Durham, North Carolina Businesses Use Cohn Legal for Trademark Services
Abe Cohn is the Managing Partner of Cohn Legal, PLLC. Serving clients in Durham, North Carolina, Abe loves working with startups and entrepreneurs and relishes the opportunity to help companies build something from the ground up. In addition, he assists his clients with a variety of intellectual property law matters in addition to managing various corporate transactional work.
Top 7 Questions Durham Businesses Have About Obtaining a Trademark
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a word, a phrase, design, sound, or logo that sets companies that sell the same products or services apart from each other.
For example, a customer may see a variety of oatmeal brands on the shelves of their grocery store. However, they’ll be able to easily choose “Quaker Oats” amongst all other brands because of the trademarked brand name.
What is the difference between a fanciful trademark and an arbitrary trademark?
Fanciful trademarks are marks that are usually made up or invented. These marks only have meaning when applied to a specific product or service. An example of a fanciful trademark would be Exxon or Pepsi. Neither word has meaning outside of its use as a brand name of a specific product.
An arbitrary mark is a mark that has a meaning on its own, but applied to a particular product or service that’s unrelated to that meaning. An example would be Apple. An apple is the generic name of a fruit, but when applied to a technology company, it has no particular meaning. Another example is Peter Pan. Peter pan is the name of a character in a book, but when applied to peanut butter, it has no particular meaning and is considered to be distinctive.
How long does a trademark last?
Trademarks have no expiration date. You just need to keep up with the renewal deadlines that are set by the USPTO. Your first renewal will come up approximately 5 or 6 years from the date you first registered the trademark. Expect to complete a second renewal 10 years after the date you first registered the trademark. Your third and all subsequent renewals will be required every 10 years.
How long does the trademark application process take?
Once you submit your trademark application, the USPTO will respond within 3 to 6 months. If your registration is found to be eligible for registration, it may take another several week before the trademark is registered. Assume that the entire process will take about 8 to 10 months if the trademark is approved.
If the trademark is found to be ineligible for registration, the process will take an additional number of months. It’s hard to say exactly how long since it depends on how complex it will be to resolve the issues which cause it to be rejected and how quickly you move to resolve them.
My competitor didn’t trademark their logo. Can I register it for myself?
You can certainly try to trademark it for yourself but speak with a trademark attorney first. Even though a competitor’s mark has not been federally registered, it may be protected under “common law” rules, which gives your competitor certain rights to an unregistered mark if they’ve been using it commercially.
Is it ever too late to hire a trademark attorney?
It is never too late to hire a trademark attorney. Ideally, you should hire a trademark attorney as soon as you know that you want to trademark a piece of intellectual property, but a trademark attorney can step in at any time.
If you’ve already submitted an application on your own, but it was rejected, a trademark attorney can help. An attorney can help you monitor the market for infringement of your existing trademarks. An attorney can draft a cease-and-desist letter to anyone infringing upon your mark.
Can I file a trademark if I’m not yet selling any products?
If you want to file a trademark before you’re ready to bring your products to market, then you can do so with an Intent-To-Use (ITU) trademark application.
Once the ITU application has been accepted, you’ll receive a notice of allowance (NOA). You will have 6 months to either submit your Statement of Use or file a petition to extend your submission of a Statement of Use by another 6 months. You are allowed up to 5 extension requests.
Why Trademark Registration Matters for Durham Businesses
Durham, known as a part of the Research Triangle Durham is a thriving city that has become a hot spot for entrepreneurs in recent years. If you’re starting a new business in Durham, then you may be focused on product development, marketing plans, and a million other tasks.
One task you don’t want to overlook, however, is trademark registration. Failing to register your trademark early on can have devastating consequences for your new business.
Imagine the following: Lucian has been working for a prominent house painter in the Durham area for several years and has decided to strike out on his own. He uses only low-VOC and eco-friendly supplies. He calls his new company Fresh Air House Painting.
Excited to get started, Lucian dives in. He creates a logo for his company and has it painted on the side of his van. He creates a website, flyers, and postcards to mail out to Durham homeowners. Lucian’s sister asks him if he’s considered contacting a trademark attorney, but he says that he’ll get to that after his business is making a profit.
Lucian’s new business is going great. He’s just 6 months in and he’s already thinking about expanding his crew. However, he’s about to get some troubling news.
What Lucian doesn’t realize is that a prominent paint manufacturer is currently developing a low-VOC paint that has yet to hit the market. They’ve already trademarked the name Fresh Air Paint for themselves.
Lucian receives a cease-and-desist letter from the paint manufacturer asking him to stop operating under the name Fresh Air Paint because it’s too similar to their trademark and may cause confusion in the market. Now Lucian must close his business, rebrand, and reopen under a new name. This is a costly and time-consuming process.
A situation like this can be avoided if you hire a trademark attorney and conduct a proper trademark search when you’re ready to start your business. 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 Durham and yet it can assist businesses from North Carolina in registering a federal Trademark because trademarks are governed under federal law.
Trademarks Services for Durham 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.