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Fort Wayne, Indiana Businesses Use Cohn Legal for Trademark Services
Serving clients in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Cohn Legal PLLC is a boutique law firm that focuses on trademark protection for startups and entrepreneurs. We provide our clients with exceptional legal guidance and support at cost-effective rates. As a client, you can expect excellence in legal representation, however, we take greater pride in our ability to forge lasting bonds with our clients.
Top Questions Fort Wayne Businesses Have About Obtaining a Trademark
If I Only Provide My Services in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 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 Fort Wayne, Indiana, 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 unique symbol, word, phrase, design, or a combination of these elements that distinguishes the goods or services of one business from those of others. It acts as a source identifier, helping consumers recognize and associate specific products or services with a particular brand. Trademarks play a crucial role in brand protection, as they help prevent consumer confusion and safeguard a business’s reputation and goodwill.
When a business successfully registers a trademark, it receives exclusive rights to use that mark in connection with the goods or services it provides. This exclusivity allows the trademark owner to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark in the same industry or for related products or services, thus reducing the likelihood of consumer confusion and brand dilution.
Trademarks can be critical assets for businesses as they enhance brand recognition, consumer loyalty, and the overall value of the company. In today’s competitive marketplace, a strong trademark can set a business apart from its competitors and create a distinct identity that resonates with customers.
To qualify for trademark protection, a mark must be distinctive, non-generic, and not in conflict with existing marks in the same industry. Additionally, it should be used in commerce to identify and promote specific goods or services. A trademark is typically denoted by the symbols “TM” for an unregistered mark and “®” for a registered trademark.
Overall, trademarks are essential tools for businesses to protect their brands, build brand loyalty, and maintain a unique market position. By registering and enforcing their trademarks, businesses can ensure that their intellectual property rights are upheld and that consumers can identify and trust their products and services.
Is there a difference between a trademark and service mark?
Yes, there is a difference between a trademark and a service mark, although both are used to protect intellectual property. The main distinction lies in the type of goods or services they identify.
A trademark is used to identify and distinguish goods. It is applied to physical products such as clothing, electronics, food items, and other tangible goods. For example, the Nike “swoosh” logo is a registered trademark that identifies the company’s athletic footwear and apparel products.
On the other hand, a service mark (sometimes written as “servicemark”) is used to identify and distinguish services offered by a business rather than physical goods. It is typically used by businesses in industries such as consulting, banking, healthcare, legal services, and hospitality. For instance, the Hilton Hotels logo is a registered service mark that distinguishes the hotel chain’s accommodation and hospitality services.
The fundamental concept of protection and registration for both trademarks and service marks is similar. Both provide the owner with exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with their goods or services, preventing others from using a confusingly similar mark in the same field of commerce.
In practice, the term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks, and the registration process and legal protection are nearly identical for both. When filing for protection with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the same application form can be used for both trademarks and service marks, and they are treated as “marks” in general.
It’s essential to choose the appropriate type of protection based on the nature of your business. If you offer goods, you would typically seek trademark protection. If your business provides services, then a service mark would be more appropriate. However, the terms “trademark” and “service mark” are often used interchangeably in many contexts, so it’s always best to consult with a trademark attorney to ensure proper protection for your intellectual property.
What’s the difference between the ® and TM symbols?
The ® symbol and the TM symbol serve different purposes and convey distinct meanings in the context of trademarks.
- TM Symbol: The TM symbol stands for “trademark.” Its primary function is to indicate that the word, phrase, logo, or design it accompanies is being used as a trademark. It is used to put the public on notice that the owner claims rights to the mark and intends to assert those rights for brand identification and protection. The TM symbol is often used with unregistered trademarks, meaning that the mark has not been officially registered with a government trademark office. While using the TM symbol does not provide the same level of legal protection as a registered trademark, it still serves as a deterrent against potential infringers and establishes your claim to the mark.
- ® Symbol: The ® symbol stands for “registered trademark.” It is used to indicate that the trademark has been officially registered with the appropriate government authority, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the case of the U.S. Once a trademark is registered, the owner gains additional legal protection and exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with the goods or services specified in the registration. The ® symbol notifies others that the mark is a federally registered trademark and warns against unauthorized use, as infringing on a registered trademark can result in legal action and substantial penalties.
Using the ® symbol for an unregistered mark is illegal and may lead to legal consequences. Only marks that have been granted official registration should be accompanied by the ® symbol.
It’s important to note that the use of these symbols can vary by country, as different countries may have their own trademark registration systems and regulations. Additionally, some countries have specific rules regarding the use of the symbols on different types of goods or services.
Overall, the ® symbol signifies that the trademark enjoys enhanced legal protection through registration, while the TM symbol indicates that the mark is being used as a trademark but has not been officially registered. If you have a trademark that is eligible for registration, it is wise to seek registration to benefit from the full protection and rights that come with a registered trademark. Consulting with a trademark attorney can help ensure that you use these symbols correctly and protect your intellectual property rights effectively.
How can I determine if a trademark is available?
Before adopting and using a new trademark for your business, it is crucial to conduct a comprehensive trademark search to determine if the mark is available for use and registration. Here are some steps you can take to assess the availability of a trademark:
- Preliminary Search: Begin with a preliminary search on search engines and social media platforms to see if the mark is already in use by others. Look for identical or similar marks used in connection with related goods or services. Keep in mind that this initial search may not be exhaustive, but it can give you a general idea of potential conflicts.
- Official Trademark Databases: Utilize official trademark databases provided by government trademark offices. In the United States, you can search the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database. In other countries, similar databases are available through their respective trademark offices. These databases contain registered trademarks and pending applications and can help identify potential conflicts.
- Professional Trademark Search Services: Consider hiring a professional trademark search service or a trademark attorney to conduct a comprehensive search. These professionals have access to specialized databases and expertise to perform in-depth searches to identify potential conflicts more accurately.
- Search for Similarity: During your search, pay attention to marks that are similar in sound, appearance, or meaning, even if they are not identical. Trademark conflicts can arise if your mark is likely to cause confusion with an existing mark.
- Goods and Services Classification: Trademarks are registered for specific classes of goods or services. Ensure that your search covers the relevant classes that apply to your business. It’s possible for identical marks to coexist if they are used for unrelated goods or services.
- Common Law Rights: Remember that some trademarks may have common law protection even if they are not registered. Common law rights are established through use in commerce, and these rights can exist in specific geographical areas where the mark has gained recognition.
- Consult with a Trademark Attorney: Enlisting the expertise of a trademark attorney is highly recommended. They can help you interpret search results, assess potential risks, and guide you on the best course of action based on the search findings.
By conducting a thorough trademark search, you can identify potential conflicts and make an informed decision about whether to proceed with your chosen mark. It’s essential to avoid infringing on existing trademarks to prevent costly legal disputes down the road. Additionally, if your search reveals no conflicts, you can proceed with confidence knowing that your chosen trademark is more likely to be registrable and protectable.
Will the USPTO conduct a trademark search?
The USPTO will conduct a trademark search after you submit your trademark application. The reason they conduct this search is to see if your desired mark is too similar to any pending or existing trademarks. If they do find a mark that’s confusingly similar to your desired mark, then they will reject your application. Your application fee will not be refunded.
It’s always best for you to conduct your own trademark search prior to submitting your application. That way, if you do find a mark that’s similar to your mark, you can make appropriate changes to ensure that it’s unique.
What if I find a trademark similar to the one I want during a search?
If you conduct a trademark search and find that there’s a trademark similar to your desired mark that’s already registered, then you should not proceed with your trademark application. Your best move is to create a new, unique trademark.
Do I need to sell a product or service to obtain a registered trademark?
No, you do not necessarily need to be actively selling a product or service to obtain a registered trademark. In many countries, including the United States, trademark rights can be established based on “intent to use” rather than actual use in commerce.
In the United States, you can file an “Intent-to-Use” (ITU) trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) before you have started using the mark in commerce. This allows you to reserve the trademark for future use, securing your rights to the mark while you prepare to launch your product or service.
The ITU application process involves several steps:
- Filing the ITU Application: You file the ITU application with the USPTO, indicating your bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce. This means you have a genuine intention to use the mark on the specified goods or services in the future.
- Notice of Allowance: After the USPTO reviews your application and determines that it complies with all legal requirements, they issue a “Notice of Allowance” if they approve your mark. This notice sets a six-month deadline to either use the mark in commerce or file an extension request.
- Statement of Use: To complete the registration process, you must submit a “Statement of Use” (SOU) demonstrating that you have started using the mark in commerce within the six-month period. Alternatively, you can request up to five extensions of six months each (totaling 36 months) to continue reserving the mark while you work on bringing the product or service to market.
- Registration: Once the USPTO accepts your SOU or you have used all available extensions, your trademark will be registered on the Principal Register, and you will have full legal protection and exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with the specified goods or services.
It’s important to note that while you can obtain a registered trademark based on intent to use, you must eventually demonstrate actual use of the mark in commerce to maintain the registration and protect your rights. If you fail to use the mark in commerce after obtaining the registration, your trademark registration could be subject to cancellation.
The intent-to-use process is advantageous for businesses that are in the early stages of product development or service planning, as it allows them to secure valuable trademark rights while they finalize their offerings. It also helps prevent others from registering a similar mark during the crucial development phase. Consulting with a trademark attorney during the ITU application process is advisable to ensure compliance with all legal requirements and maximize the chances of successful registration.
What’s the difference between “intent to use” and “in commerce” applications?
If you submit a trademark application on an “intent to use” basis, it means that your mark is not in use in the market yet, but you expect it to be in use in the near future. If you file an application on an “intent to use” basis, then you’ll have to provide additional documentation to the USPTO once your mark is in commerce.
If you are already using your trademark in the marketplace, then you would file your trademark on an “in commerce” basis.
If I only provide my services locally, can I still obtain a federal trademark?
Yes, you can obtain a federal trademark in the United States even if you provide your services only locally. Federal trademark registration is not limited to businesses engaged in interstate or nationwide commerce. As long as you meet the other requirements for trademark registration, such as distinctiveness and proper use of the mark in commerce, you can seek federal protection for your trademark, even if your services are limited to a specific geographical area.
To qualify for federal trademark registration, your mark must be distinctive and not merely descriptive of the services you provide. The mark should also be used in commerce to identify and promote your services in connection with your business. If you are only offering services locally, you should be able to demonstrate your use of the mark within that specific geographic region.
When applying for federal trademark registration, you will need to specify the geographic area where your services are offered. This can be in the form of a statement in your application that indicates the extent of your services’ geographical reach. Your registration will then cover the use of the mark within that specified area.
It’s important to note that while federal registration provides significant benefits and protections, it may not be the only form of trademark protection available to you. Common law rights to a trademark can be established through actual use of the mark in commerce, even without federal registration. These common law rights can offer some level of protection within the geographic area where the mark is used, but they may be limited compared to the nationwide protection that comes with federal registration.
Obtaining federal trademark registration is a valuable step in building brand recognition and protection. It grants you stronger legal rights, the ability to sue in federal court, and protection against infringing uses nationwide. Before applying for a federal trademark, consider consulting with a trademark attorney who can help you navigate the process, assess the strength of your mark, and ensure that your application meets all legal requirements. Whether your services are local or national, federal registration can be a powerful tool for safeguarding your brand and distinguishing your services from competitors.
How do I register my trademark?
To register your trademark, compete for an application using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). This is an online portal where you can submit your application, pay fees, and continue to correspond with the USPTO throughout the registration process. TEAS is typically available 24/7, although online payments are not accepted between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
How can I check the status of my trademark application?
After you submit your application, you’ll receive a serial number. You can visit the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval System (TSDR) and search for your application status using that serial number. Alternatively, you can call the Trademark Assistance Center at 800-786-9199 and provide them with the serial number and ask for a status update.
What should I register first: the name of my business or my brand logo?
When it comes to trademark registration, it’s generally advisable to prioritize the registration of the name of your business over your brand logo, especially if your business name is unique and distinctive. Here are some reasons why:
- Primary Identifier: The name of your business is often the primary identifier of your brand. It is how customers will refer to and recognize your company. Registering your business name as a trademark provides broader protection for your overall brand identity.
- Flexibility: By registering your business name, you gain protection for any variations of that name, including abbreviations, alternate spellings, and plural forms. This flexibility is essential if you plan to expand your business or introduce new products or services under the same brand umbrella.
- Separate Logos: If you have multiple brand logos or plan to update your logo over time, registering the name of your business ensures that your core brand identity remains protected regardless of logo changes.
- Cost-Effective: Registering a word mark (the name of your business) is often more cost-effective than registering a design mark (your brand logo) since it generally involves simpler and less expensive application processes.
- Broader Protection: A registered word mark can protect your brand across various industries and applications, whereas a logo mark is specific to the visual representation of the mark. Registering your business name can safeguard your brand identity across a wide range of products or services.
However, this doesn’t mean you should neglect protecting your brand logo. If your logo contains unique design elements or features that are critical to your brand’s identity and recognition, you should also consider registering it as a separate trademark. Registering both your business name and logo provides a comprehensive level of protection for your brand, covering both the verbal and visual aspects.
When planning your trademark strategy, it’s essential to consider the overall brand elements that need protection. If you have limited resources, prioritize protecting the core elements that uniquely identify your brand. A comprehensive trademark search and consultation with a trademark attorney can help you determine the best approach for protecting your brand’s intellectual property effectively.
What is a fanciful trademark?
A fanciful trademark is a type of trademark that is considered the strongest and most distinctive on the spectrum of trademark categories. Fanciful trademarks are composed of invented or coined words that have no dictionary or common meaning and were created solely for use as a brand identifier. These marks are inherently distinctive and are afforded a high level of protection under trademark law.
The distinctiveness of fanciful trademarks arises from their unique and arbitrary nature, making them immediately recognizable and memorable to consumers. Since these marks have no existing association with the products or services they represent, they are more likely to be easily associated with a specific brand and less prone to confusion with other marks in the marketplace.
Examples of fanciful trademarks include well-known brands like “Kodak” for cameras and imaging products, “Exxon” for petroleum products, and “Google” for internet search services. None of these words had any prior meaning or association before they were adopted as trademarks.
Fanciful trademarks are at the opposite end of the spectrum from generic and descriptive marks, which receive limited or no trademark protection. Generic terms are the common names for goods or services and cannot function as trademarks, while descriptive terms may be descriptive of the goods or services they represent and require secondary meaning to acquire protection.
When seeking trademark protection, it is highly advantageous to choose a fanciful or arbitrary mark to create a strong brand identity and gain broader legal protection. Fanciful trademarks are eligible for registration on the Principal Register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) without the need to show secondary meaning. This means that registration is generally easier and quicker for fanciful trademarks than for marks with weaker levels of distinctiveness.
If you are considering creating a new brand, selecting a fanciful trademark can be a strategic choice to set your business apart and build a powerful brand identity. Before finalizing your brand name, it is essential to conduct a thorough trademark search to ensure that your chosen mark is available for registration and does not conflict with existing trademarks. Consulting with a trademark attorney can help you navigate the registration process and strengthen your brand’s intellectual property protection.
What is TEAS?
TEAS stands for “Trademark Electronic Application System.” It is an online platform provided by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that allows individuals and businesses to file trademark applications and manage their trademark registrations electronically.
TEAS offers several different application forms, each designed to accommodate various types of trademark filings. The main application forms available through TEAS are:
- TEAS Plus: This is the most cost-effective application option, offering a lower filing fee compared to other forms. However, to use TEAS Plus, applicants must meet specific requirements, such as providing accurate goods and services descriptions from the USPTO’s pre-approved database and agreeing to communicate with the USPTO only through electronic means during the application process.
- TEAS Reduced Fee (TEAS RF): This form requires a higher filing fee than TEAS Plus but provides more flexibility in terms of goods and services descriptions and communication options. Applicants using TEAS RF agree to file certain documents electronically and receive email communications from the USPTO.
- TEAS Regular: This form has a higher filing fee than TEAS Plus and TEAS RF but allows the broadest range of goods and services descriptions and communication options with the USPTO.
Using TEAS to file a trademark application offers several advantages:
– Online Convenience: TEAS allows applicants to submit and manage their trademark applications entirely online, making the process faster and more efficient.
– Immediate Receipt: Upon filing, applicants receive an immediate email acknowledgment confirming the receipt of their application.
– Real-Time Status: Users can check the status of their application in real-time and receive updates and communications from the USPTO electronically.
– Secure Payment: TEAS accepts electronic payment methods, providing a secure way to pay filing fees.
– Faster Processing: Applications filed through TEAS are typically processed faster than traditional paper applications.
To use TEAS, applicants must create an account on the USPTO website and follow the instructions for the specific application form they choose. It’s essential to ensure all information provided is accurate and complete to avoid delays or potential issues with the application.
While TEAS is a user-friendly platform, trademark law and the registration process can be complex. If you have questions about trademark registration or need guidance on the application process, it is recommended to consult with a trademark attorney who can provide personalized advice and assistance throughout the process.
How long does the trademark application process take?
The duration of the trademark application process can vary significantly depending on various factors. On average, the entire process can take anywhere from several months to over a year or more. The key stages of the trademark application process and the time frames associated with each stage are as follows:
- Initial Application Review: After submitting the trademark application through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) or a paper application, the USPTO conducts an initial review to ensure the application meets the basic filing requirements. This review typically takes a few weeks to a couple of months.
- Publication for Opposition: If the USPTO approves the application, it is published in the Official Gazette, a weekly publication that lists newly filed trademarks. This allows third parties to review the application and file an opposition if they believe the mark would conflict with their own existing trademark rights. The opposition period usually lasts 30 days, but the process can extend if an opposition is filed.
- Examination and Response: The USPTO assigns an examining attorney to review the application in detail. This examination process may involve assessing the mark’s distinctiveness, checking for conflicting marks, and verifying compliance with all legal requirements. The examination period may take several months, especially if the USPTO issues an Office Action that requires a response from the applicant.
- Registration or Final Refusal: If the application is approved and no oppositions or refusals are issued during the examination, the mark proceeds to registration. However, if the USPTO issues a refusal based on certain grounds, the applicant must respond appropriately to overcome the refusal. The overall time for this stage can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the need for additional clarifications.
- Registration Certificate: Once the USPTO is satisfied that all requirements are met, the trademark is registered, and a registration certificate is issued. This typically occurs within a few weeks after approval.
It is important to note that the timeline for the trademark application process can be influenced by various factors, including the type of application (TEAS Plus, TEAS RF, or TEAS Regular), the accuracy and completeness of the application, the workload of the USPTO, and whether any issues or refusals arise during examination.
To expedite the process, applicants can ensure they submit a well-prepared application, respond promptly to any USPTO requests, and conduct a comprehensive trademark search before filing to avoid potential conflicts. Working with an experienced trademark attorney can also help navigate the application process efficiently and reduce delays.
Overall, while there is no fixed timeline for the entire process, applicants can expect the trademark application process to take several months to over a year in most cases.
How long does a trademark last?
Unlike some other forms of intellectual property, such as patents or copyrights, trademarks can potentially last indefinitely as long as they continue to be used and maintained properly. Trademarks in the United States are protected through registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or common law use in commerce.
- Registered Trademarks: Once a trademark is registered with the USPTO, it initially receives protection for ten years from the registration date. After the initial ten-year period, the registration can be renewed indefinitely for additional ten-year periods as long as the mark is still in use and renewal fees are paid. There is no limit to the number of times a trademark can be renewed, making it possible for a registered trademark to remain in force for as long as the owner continues to use and protect it.
- Common Law Trademarks: Trademarks that are established through common law use (actual use in commerce without registration) are also protected for as long as they are used in connection with the goods or services they represent. However, common law trademarks have limited geographical protection and may be weaker in enforcing trademark rights compared to registered trademarks.
To maintain a registered trademark, the owner must continue to use the mark in commerce and file required maintenance documents with the USPTO at regular intervals. The first maintenance filing is due between the fifth and sixth year after registration, and subsequent filings are required every ten years. Failure to maintain the registration or continuous non-use of the mark can result in the cancellation of the trademark registration.
It’s essential to actively monitor and enforce trademark rights to prevent others from using similar marks that may cause confusion among consumers. Regularly conducting trademark searches and taking appropriate legal action against potential infringers can help protect and preserve the exclusivity of a trademark.
It’s worth noting that trademark law and regulations can change over time, so it’s essential to stay informed about any updates that may affect the duration or maintenance requirements of trademark rights. Consulting with a trademark attorney can provide valuable guidance on how to maintain and protect your trademark for the long term. Overall, proper use, maintenance, and enforcement are key to ensuring that a trademark remains a valuable asset for a business throughout its lifespan.
Can I use a trademark without registering it?
Yes, you can use a trademark without registering it, and doing so establishes what is known as “common law” trademark rights. Common law trademark rights are based on the actual use of a mark in commerce to identify and distinguish goods or services. These rights are automatic and arise as soon as you start using the mark in connection with your business.
Using a trademark without registration provides some level of protection, but it is limited in scope compared to the protection granted by federal registration. Common law trademark rights generally apply only to the specific geographical areas where the mark is used and where consumers associate the mark with your goods or services.
The advantages of using a trademark without registration include:
- Immediate Protection: You gain limited trademark rights from the moment you start using the mark in commerce. This can be especially beneficial if you need to start building brand recognition and establishing your presence in the market quickly.
- Cost-Effective: Common law rights are established without the need to pay registration fees. This can be helpful for businesses with limited resources or those testing the viability of a brand before committing to federal registration.
However, there are significant limitations to common law trademark rights:
- Geographic Limitations: Common law rights only extend to the specific geographic areas where the mark is used and where consumers recognize it. This means that someone else can use the same or a similar mark in a different geographic region without infringing on your common law rights.
- Limited Legal Recourse: Enforcing common law rights can be more challenging and costly than enforcing federally registered trademarks. In many cases, litigation may be necessary to protect your rights.
- Priority Disputes: Common law rights are subject to the “first to use” principle, which means the first party to use the mark in commerce has priority over others. However, without federal registration, it can be challenging to prove the date of first use in case of disputes.
To gain broader protection and enhanced legal rights, including nationwide protection and the ability to sue in federal court, it is recommended to seek federal trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Registration provides a higher level of legal certainty and strengthens your ability to enforce your trademark rights against potential infringers.
Before adopting and using a trademark, conducting a comprehensive trademark search is essential to identify any potential conflicts with existing marks. Consulting with a trademark attorney can help you navigate the complexities of trademark law and make informed decisions about the best strategies for protecting your brand.
When should I hire a trademark lawyer?
Hiring a trademark lawyer is highly recommended when you are considering adopting, using, or protecting a trademark for your business. A trademark lawyer can provide invaluable assistance throughout the entire trademark process, from conducting a thorough trademark search to guiding you through the application process and enforcing your trademark rights. Here are some specific situations where you should consider hiring a trademark lawyer:
- Trademark Search and Clearance: Before adopting a new trademark, conducting a comprehensive trademark search is crucial to identify potential conflicts with existing marks. A trademark attorney can perform a professional search and analyze the results to assess the risk of trademark infringement and advise you on the best course of action.
- Trademark Application: Filing a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or any other trademark office can be a complex and technical process. A trademark lawyer can help you prepare and submit a strong application, ensuring that it meets all legal requirements and has the best chance of approval.
- Responding to Office Actions: If the USPTO issues an Office Action, which is a formal letter outlining issues or refusals with your trademark application, a trademark attorney can help you draft a proper response to address the USPTO’s concerns effectively.
- Overcoming Trademark Oppositions: If another party files an opposition to your trademark application, a trademark lawyer can represent you in the opposition proceeding, presenting arguments and evidence to defend your trademark rights.
- Trademark Portfolio Management: If you have multiple trademarks or plan to expand your brand internationally, a trademark attorney can help you manage your trademark portfolio, ensuring all registrations are up to date and renewals are filed on time.
- Trademark Licensing and Assignments: If you plan to license your trademark to others or transfer ownership, a trademark lawyer can draft the necessary agreements to protect your rights and ensure compliance with trademark laws.
- Trademark Enforcement and Litigation: If someone else is infringing on your trademark rights or if you are accused of infringing on another party’s trademark, a trademark attorney can represent you in negotiations or litigation to protect your interests.
- International Trademark Protection: If you are expanding your business globally, a trademark lawyer can advise you on international trademark registration strategies and help you navigate the complexities of international trademark laws.
By working with a trademark lawyer, you can benefit from their expertise, reduce the risk of costly mistakes, and ensure that your trademark is protected properly. Trademark law can be intricate, and the consequences of not adequately protecting your intellectual property can be severe. Therefore, seeking legal counsel from a qualified trademark attorney is a wise investment to safeguard your brand and ensure long-term success for your business.
I’ve already submitted a trademark registration application. Do I still need a trademark attorney?
It’s always best to hire a trademark attorney sooner rather than later. However, if you’ve already submitted your application, there’s still plenty of ways an attorney can assist you.
A trademark attorney can help you respond to Office Actions, give you advice on protecting other pieces of intellectual property, and monitor the market for any instances of someone infringing on your trademark. A trademark attorney can also file trademark renewal documents on your behalf. Furthermore, a trademark attorney will represent you in front of the USPTO or in federal court, if required.
What is a trademark’s specimen?
In the context of trademark registration, a specimen refers to a sample or example of how the trademark is used in commerce on the goods or in connection with the services for which the trademark is being applied. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and other trademark offices require applicants to submit a specimen as part of the trademark application process.
The purpose of providing a specimen is to demonstrate to the trademark office that the mark is being used in a real-world commercial context to identify and distinguish the goods or services associated with the mark. The specimen serves as evidence of the mark’s actual use and helps establish the validity of the application.
The type of specimen required depends on whether the mark is used in connection with goods or services:
- Specimen for Goods: For trademarks used on tangible products or goods, an acceptable specimen could be a label, tag, packaging, container, or the product itself, showing the mark in use. The specimen should show the mark in a manner that consumers would typically encounter it during the purchase or consumption of the goods.
- Specimen for Services: For trademarks used in connection with services, an acceptable specimen could be a brochure, advertisement, webpage screenshot, or other promotional materials that display the mark in association with the services offered. The specimen should demonstrate that the mark is used to identify the services and distinguish them from those offered by others.
It is essential that the specimen matches the exact wording and design of the mark as it appears in the trademark application. Any variations from the mark as filed in the application may lead to refusal or additional requirements by the trademark office.
For online services or web-based businesses, website screenshots showing the mark in use are commonly used as specimens for service-based trademarks.
Providing an acceptable specimen is a critical part of the trademark application process. The specimen helps demonstrate that the mark is not merely a concept but is actively being used in commerce to identify and promote specific goods or services.
If you have questions about selecting an appropriate specimen for your trademark application or need guidance on any aspect of the trademark registration process, consulting with a trademark attorney can be highly beneficial. A trademark attorney can review your materials, ensure compliance with trademark office requirements, and help increase the likelihood of a successful trademark registration.
Can I request an expedited approval of my trademark registration?
Yes, you can request an expedited or accelerated review of your trademark application under certain circumstances. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers a program called the “TEAS Plus” and “TEAS RF” programs, which include an expedited examination option known as the “TEAS Reduced Fee (TEAS RF) Express.”
To qualify for expedited review through the TEAS RF Express program, you must meet specific requirements:
- TEAS RF Application: You must use the TEAS RF application form for your trademark filing.
- Goods and Services Selection: The goods and services descriptions in your application must match those in the USPTO’s pre-approved database. This ensures that the descriptions are accurate and consistent with the USPTO’s classification system.
- Electronic Communication: You must agree to communicate with the USPTO electronically during the application process, including receiving correspondence and notifications via email.
- TEAS RF Fee: You must pay the appropriate TEAS RF filing fee, which is higher than the fee for regular TEAS applications but lower than the TEAS Plus fee.
The main advantage of using the TEAS RF Express program is the potential for a faster examination process. Expedited applications typically receive a faster initial review by the USPTO, which may lead to a quicker approval or issuance of an Office Action, if necessary. However, it’s important to note that expedited review does not guarantee immediate registration; the overall timeline for registration can still vary depending on the complexity of the application and any issues that may arise during examination.
If you do not meet the requirements for expedited review, you can still choose the regular TEAS application process, which is open to a broader range of goods and services descriptions and allows non-electronic communication with the USPTO.
Keep in mind that while expedited review can speed up the initial examination, the overall trademark registration process may still take several months to complete. Regardless of whether you choose expedited review or the regular process, it’s essential to ensure that your trademark application is accurate, complete, and complies with all legal requirements to maximize the chances of successful registration.
If you are uncertain about which application option is best for your trademark or need assistance with the application process, consulting with a trademark attorney can provide valuable guidance and increase your chances of a successful registration.
Can I trademark a phrase?
Yes, you can trademark a phrase under certain conditions. Trademark protection extends to various types of marks, including words, phrases, logos, and even sounds and colors, as long as they function as source identifiers for goods or services.
To successfully trademark a phrase, the phrase must meet certain requirements:
- Distinctiveness: The phrase must be distinctive and not merely descriptive of the goods or services it represents. Fanciful, arbitrary, or suggestive phrases are typically considered inherently distinctive and more likely to receive trademark protection. Generic phrases that describe the product or service itself cannot be trademarked.
- Use in Commerce: The phrase must be used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods or services associated with the mark. In the United States, actual use in commerce is not required to file an intent-to-use application, but it is necessary to establish trademark rights and obtain registration eventually.
- No Conflicts: The phrase should not conflict with any existing trademarks or prior rights. A comprehensive trademark search is essential to ensure that the phrase is available for registration and does not infringe on the rights of others.
- Non-Offensive: The phrase should not be offensive, immoral, or scandalous. Trademark examiners may reject registration for phrases that are considered vulgar or offensive.
- Distinctiveness and Secondary Meaning: If the phrase is descriptive or has a common meaning, it may still be eligible for trademark protection if it has acquired secondary meaning. Secondary meaning is established when the phrase has become associated with a particular source in the minds of consumers due to significant and exclusive use over time.
Once you determine that your phrase meets the requirements for trademark protection, you can apply for registration with the appropriate trademark office. In the United States, you can file a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Keep in mind that trademark protection is limited to the specific goods or services associated with the mark. If your phrase is used in connection with different goods or services, you may need to file separate applications in the appropriate trademark classes.
Obtaining trademark registration for your phrase provides several benefits, including nationwide protection, the ability to enforce your rights in federal court, and the exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the specified goods or services.
Navigating the trademark application process and ensuring compliance with all legal requirements can be complex. Consulting with a trademark attorney can help you understand the process, increase your chances of successful registration, and protect your valuable intellectual property rights.
Can I trademark a logo?
Yes, you can trademark a logo. A logo can be a highly valuable and distinctive trademark for your business, as it serves as a visual representation of your brand. Like other types of trademarks, the logo must meet specific requirements to be eligible for trademark protection:
- Distinctiveness: To be eligible for trademark protection, the logo should be distinctive and not merely descriptive of the goods or services it represents. Fanciful, arbitrary, or suggestive logos are generally considered inherently distinctive and receive stronger protection. Generic logos that depict common shapes or elements typically cannot be trademarked.
- Use in Commerce: To obtain federal trademark registration in the United States, the logo must be used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods or services associated with the mark. However, you can also file an intent-to-use application if you have a bona fide intent to use the logo in commerce in the future.
- No Conflicts: The logo should not conflict with any existing trademarks or prior rights. Conducting a comprehensive trademark search is essential to ensure the logo is available for registration and does not infringe on the rights of others.
- Non-Functional: The logo should not serve a functional purpose, meaning it should not be an essential or functional feature of the goods or services.
- Design Format: The logo should be in a design format that can be represented visually. It can be a combination of words, symbols, or images that create a unique and identifiable mark.
Once you have determined that your logo meets the requirements for trademark protection, you can proceed with the application process. In the United States, you can file a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application should include a clear representation of the logo, and you must specify the goods or services the logo will represent.
Obtaining federal trademark registration for your logo provides several advantages, including nationwide protection, the ability to enforce your rights in federal court, and a legal presumption of ownership and validity of the mark.
It’s important to note that trademark protection is limited to the specific goods or services associated with the logo. If your logo is used in connection with different goods or services, you may need to file separate applications in the appropriate trademark classes.
Navigating the trademark application process can be complex, especially when it involves logo design and representation. Consulting with a trademark attorney can help you understand the process, ensure your logo meets all legal requirements, and increase your chances of successful registration and protection of your valuable brand identity.
Can I trademark a color?
Yes, it is possible to trademark a color under certain circumstances. However, obtaining a color trademark can be challenging, as colors are considered inherently weaker trademarks compared to words or logos. To successfully trademark a color, the color must have acquired “secondary meaning” and be distinctive in association with specific goods or services.
Here are the key factors to consider when seeking a color trademark:
- Distinctiveness: The color must be used in a way that consumers identify it as indicating the source of a particular product or service. If the color is merely ornamental or functional, it is unlikely to be considered distinctive.
- Secondary Meaning: Secondary meaning is established when the color has acquired distinctiveness through long and exclusive use in commerce. This means that consumers have come to associate the color specifically with a particular brand or source.
- Non-Functional: The color should not serve a functional purpose or be essential to the product or service. For example, if a color is commonly used in an industry for functional reasons, it may not be eligible for trademark protection.
- Limited Scope: Color trademarks are generally limited in scope to the specific industry or context in which they are used. Obtaining a color trademark for a broad range of goods or services can be challenging.
- Trade Dress: In some cases, a color may be part of a product’s trade dress, which includes the overall visual appearance of the product or packaging. Trade dress can be protected as a trademark if it meets the distinctiveness and non-functionality requirements.
Some famous examples of color trademarks include:
– Tiffany & Co.: The distinctive blue color used for its jewelry boxes and bags.
– UPS: The brown color used for its delivery trucks and uniforms.
– Home Depot: The orange color used for its retail stores and branding.
Obtaining a color trademark requires strong evidence of secondary meaning, such as consumer surveys, extensive marketing, and long-term use of the color in commerce. The process can be complex and may involve litigation if there are disputes over the validity of the color trademark.
If you believe your color has acquired secondary meaning and is distinctive in association with your goods or services, it is essential to consult with a trademark attorney. A trademark attorney can help you navigate the complexities of color trademarks, gather the necessary evidence, and increase your chances of obtaining federal registration for your color mark.
Can I transfer my trademark to someone else?
Yes, you can transfer your trademark to someone else through a process known as trademark assignment. Trademark assignment involves transferring the ownership or rights of a registered trademark or a pending trademark application from one party (the assignor) to another (the assignee). The assignment must be properly documented and recorded with the appropriate trademark office.
Here are the key points to consider when transferring a trademark:
- Written Agreement: A trademark assignment must be executed through a written agreement between the assignor and the assignee. The agreement should clearly state the details of the transfer, including the specific trademark, the rights being transferred, and any terms or conditions of the assignment.
- Recordation: In many jurisdictions, including the United States, it is essential to record the trademark assignment with the relevant trademark office. Recording the assignment provides public notice of the transfer and ensures that the new owner’s rights are properly recognized.
- Goodwill: If the trademark being transferred is associated with a particular business or product, the assignment should include the transfer of any associated goodwill. Goodwill refers to the reputation and recognition that the trademark has acquired in connection with the products or services it represents.
- Prohibited Assignments: In some cases, certain trademarks may not be assignable. For example, trademarks that are primarily surnames, deceptive, or scandalous may have restrictions on assignment.
- International Transfers: If you are transferring a trademark registered in multiple countries, you may need to comply with the specific requirements of each country’s trademark office.
Trademark assignments can occur for various reasons, such as business acquisitions, mergers, or brand restructuring. The assignee becomes the new owner of the trademark and assumes all rights, responsibilities, and liabilities associated with the mark.
It’s important to note that trademark assignment is different from trademark licensing. In an assignment, ownership of the trademark is completely transferred to the new owner. In contrast, a license allows another party to use the trademark under specific conditions while the owner retains ownership.
To ensure that a trademark assignment is properly executed and legally effective, it is highly recommended to work with a qualified trademark attorney. A trademark attorney can draft the necessary agreement, guide you through the assignment process, and ensure compliance with all legal requirements. Additionally, if you are acquiring a trademark through assignment, conducting due diligence to verify the mark’s validity and enforceability is crucial to protect your interests.
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 under certain conditions and for specific purposes.
A trademark licensing agreement is a legally binding contract that outlines the terms and conditions of the license, including:
- Scope of Use: The agreement should specify the scope of the license, such as the products or services the licensee is allowed to use the trademark for. It may also define the geographic area where the trademark can be used.
- Quality Control: As the licensor, you have the right to enforce quality control standards to maintain the integrity of your brand. The agreement should outline the quality standards the licensee must adhere to when using the trademark.
- Duration: The agreement should state the duration of the license, including any renewal options.
- Compensation: The agreement should specify the compensation or royalties the licensee must pay to the licensor for the right to use the trademark. This can be a fixed fee, a percentage of sales, or other agreed-upon terms.
- Termination: The agreement should outline the conditions under which the license can be terminated, such as breach of contract or failure to meet quality standards.
Licensing your trademark can be a beneficial way to generate additional revenue and expand your brand’s reach without directly engaging in the production or distribution of goods or services. It allows you to leverage your trademark’s value and reputation while maintaining ownership and control over the mark.
However, it’s essential to carefully consider the terms of the licensing agreement and choose licensees that align with your brand values and quality standards. Properly managing and enforcing the terms of the license agreement can help protect the integrity and reputation of your brand.
It’s highly recommended to work with a trademark attorney to draft a comprehensive licensing agreement that safeguards your rights and interests as the trademark owner. An attorney can help ensure that the agreement complies with all legal requirements and provides the necessary protections for your trademark. Additionally, a trademark attorney can assist in negotiating the terms of the license and handling any potential disputes that may arise during the licensing relationship.
If my trademark is registered in the United States is it protected in other countries as well?
No, registering your trademark in the United States provides protection only within the borders of the United States. Trademark rights are territorial, which means that a trademark registered in one country does not automatically grant protection in other countries.
If you wish to protect your trademark in other countries, you will need to pursue trademark registration in each country where you seek protection. The process and requirements for international trademark registration vary from country to country, and you will need to comply with the specific rules and procedures of each jurisdiction.
There are two primary routes to pursue international trademark protection:
- National Applications: You can file individual trademark applications directly with the trademark office of each country where you seek protection. This can be a time-consuming and complex process, as you will need to navigate the trademark laws and regulations of each country and potentially engage local attorneys to assist with the applications.
- International Registration through Madrid System: The Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks offers a more streamlined and cost-effective option for seeking trademark protection in multiple countries. Under this system, you can file a single international application with your home country’s trademark office (known as the “Office of Origin”), designating the other countries where you want protection. The application is then forwarded to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which reviews and processes the application. If approved, the trademark is registered in the designated countries. The Madrid System simplifies the process of seeking international protection, as it centralizes the application and examination procedures.
It’s important to note that the Madrid System is available for countries that are party to the Madrid Agreement and/or the Madrid Protocol. Not all countries participate in the system, and the level of protection and procedures may vary among participating countries.
Expanding your trademark’s protection internationally can be a strategic decision to prevent others from using similar marks in other markets, ensure consistent brand recognition, and facilitate global business expansion. However, international trademark registration can be complex, and it’s essential to seek guidance from a qualified trademark attorney with expertise in international trademark law. An attorney can help you navigate the process, determine the best strategy for international protection, and assist with the necessary applications and filings in each country.
Is there such a thing as an “International Trademark”?
While there is no concept of a single “International Trademark” that provides blanket protection worldwide, there are international mechanisms and agreements that facilitate the process of seeking trademark protection in multiple countries.
The most notable international system for trademark registration is the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Madrid System allows trademark owners to seek protection in multiple countries by filing a single international application based on their home country’s national trademark registration or application. This system is particularly beneficial for businesses seeking to protect their trademarks in several countries simultaneously.
Here’s how the Madrid System works:
- Office of Origin: The trademark owner files an international application with their home country’s trademark office, known as the “Office of Origin.”
- WIPO Review: The international application is reviewed by WIPO to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Madrid Agreement and Madrid Protocol.
- Designation of Target Countries: The trademark owner designates the countries where they seek protection. These countries must be members of the Madrid Agreement and/or the Madrid Protocol.
- Individual Country Examination: The trademark offices of the designated countries examine the application based on their national laws and regulations. Each country’s trademark office can accept or refuse protection based on their individual examination.
- Centralized Management: Once the trademark is registered in the international register maintained by WIPO, it is managed centrally through WIPO. Subsequent changes or renewals can be handled through a single request with WIPO.
It’s important to note that while the Madrid System streamlines the application process and management, it does not result in a single, unified international trademark registration. Instead, the Madrid System simplifies the administrative aspects of seeking protection in multiple countries. Each designated country ultimately determines the protection and scope of the trademark rights within its jurisdiction.
Additionally, there are regional trademark systems, such as the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for European Union (EU) countries, which allows for a single EU trademark registration covering all EU member states.
For trademark protection in countries that are not part of the Madrid System or regional systems, trademark owners must pursue individual national applications or seek assistance through bilateral or regional treaties.
Navigating international trademark registration can be complex, and the requirements of each country must be carefully considered. Consulting with a qualified trademark attorney with experience in international trademark law is highly recommended to ensure that your trademarks are adequately protected in the countries where you do business or plan to expand.
What is a trademark office action?
A trademark office action is an official written communication issued by a trademark examiner from the relevant trademark office, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or another country’s trademark office. The purpose of the office action is to inform the trademark applicant of any issues or concerns with the trademark application that need to be addressed before the application can proceed to registration.
There are two main types of trademark office actions:
- Non-Substantive Office Action: A non-substantive office action typically relates to minor procedural issues or deficiencies in the application. Examples of non-substantive issues include missing information, improper classification of goods or services, or formalities that need to be corrected. The applicant is usually given a specific period (usually six months) to respond and rectify the deficiencies.
- Substantive Office Action: A substantive office action raises concerns about the registrability of the trademark based on substantive grounds. These issues may include the mark being too descriptive, the likelihood of confusion with an existing trademark, or lack of distinctiveness. Responding to a substantive office action may require legal arguments and evidence to overcome the examiner’s objections.
The office action will outline the specific reasons for the refusal or request for clarification and may cite relevant sections of trademark law or regulations. The applicant is given a deadline to respond to the office action, and failure to respond within the specified time frame can result in the abandonment of the trademark application.
Responding to a trademark office action effectively is crucial to the success of the trademark registration process. Depending on the nature of the issues raised, the applicant may need to provide additional evidence, amend the application, or make legal arguments to persuade the examiner to approve the application.
If you receive a trademark office action, it is advisable to seek guidance from a trademark attorney. A trademark attorney can review the office action, assess the best course of action, and draft a well-prepared response to address the examiner’s concerns. Experienced legal counsel can significantly improve the chances of overcoming objections and ultimately obtaining federal registration for your trademark.
What should I do if I receive an office action on my trademark application?
Receiving a trademark office action can be a critical moment in the trademark registration process. It is essential to carefully review the office action and take the appropriate steps to address the issues raised by the trademark examiner. Here are the recommended steps to follow if you receive an office action:
- Thoroughly Review the Office Action: Take the time to read and understand the contents of the office action. Identify the specific reasons for the refusal or objections raised by the examiner. Pay close attention to any deadlines provided for responding to the office action.
- Consult with a Trademark Attorney: If you haven’t already engaged a trademark attorney, this is a good time to seek professional advice. A trademark attorney can provide valuable insights, assess the strength of the examiner’s objections, and guide you through the response process.
- Understand the Basis of the Refusal: Determine whether the office action is non-substantive or substantive. Non-substantive issues typically involve formalities or procedural matters that can be corrected easily. Substantive issues require more in-depth legal analysis and may involve providing evidence or making legal arguments.
- Gather Supporting Evidence: If the office action raises substantive issues, you may need to provide evidence to support your trademark’s distinctiveness or to distinguish it from other registered marks. This evidence may include sales figures, marketing materials, customer testimonials, or other relevant documentation.
- Prepare a Well-Structured Response: Your response to the office action should be comprehensive and organized. Address each issue raised by the examiner methodically and include relevant legal arguments and evidence. Be clear and concise in your explanations.
- Amend the Application if Necessary: If the examiner identifies specific deficiencies in your application, make the necessary amendments to correct the errors or provide missing information.
- Respect Deadlines: Adhere to the deadlines set forth in the office action. Failure to respond within the specified time frame can lead to the abandonment of your trademark application.
- Submit the Response: File your response with the appropriate trademark office according to their instructions. It’s important to follow the prescribed format and submission procedures.
- Await the Examiner’s Decision: After submitting your response, the trademark examiner will review it and make a determination. Be patient, as the review process may take some time.
- Seek Further Assistance if Needed: If the examiner’s response is unsatisfactory, or if there are additional issues, you may need to continue engaging with the trademark office or consider appealing the decision. A trademark attorney can advise you on the best course of action in such situations.
Responding to a trademark office action requires attention to detail and a thorough understanding of trademark law. Working with a qualified trademark attorney can significantly increase the chances of overcoming objections and successfully obtaining federal registration for your trademark.
Does the USPTO determine trademark infringement?
No, the USPTO does not determine trademark infringement. Their job is to review applications and keep records of trademarks. However, you as the trademark owner are responsible for monitoring the marketplace to ensure no one is infringing on your mark.
How do I enforce my trademark rights?
Enforcing your trademark rights is crucial to protecting your brand and preventing others from using your mark without authorization. Trademark enforcement involves taking action against infringers who use your trademark in a way that may cause confusion or dilute the distinctiveness of your brand. Here are the steps to effectively enforce your trademark rights:
- Monitoring and Detection: Regularly monitor the market and online platforms to identify potential trademark infringements. This can be done manually or through specialized services that help detect unauthorized use of your mark.
- Gather Evidence: Collect evidence of the infringing use, including screenshots, photographs, product samples, or any other relevant documentation. The strength of your case will depend on the quality and quantity of evidence you can provide.
- Cease and Desist Letter: Send a cease and desist letter to the infringing party demanding that they stop using your trademark immediately. The letter should state your trademark rights, provide evidence of infringement, and request compliance within a specified timeframe.
- Negotiation and Settlement: In some cases, the infringing party may be willing to stop using your mark after receiving the cease and desist letter. Negotiating a settlement that includes cessation of use and possibly monetary compensation can be a cost-effective resolution.
- Administrative Actions: In some jurisdictions, you can file administrative complaints with authorities to address trademark infringement. For example, in the United States, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to prevent counterfeit goods from entering the country.
- Legal Action: If the infringing party refuses to comply or continues infringing after the cease and desist letter, you may need to take legal action. This can involve filing a lawsuit in court to seek an injunction to stop the infringement and potentially claim damages for the harm caused to your brand.
- Trademark Opposition or Cancellation: If someone attempts to register a confusingly similar mark, you can oppose their application during the trademark registration process or file a cancellation proceeding if the mark has already been registered.
- Defend Against Challenges: If your trademark is challenged by others, such as in an opposition proceeding, you must be prepared to defend your mark’s validity and enforceability.
- International Enforcement: If your trademark is registered in multiple countries, you may need to enforce your rights in each jurisdiction. This can involve coordinating with local attorneys and navigating different legal systems.
Trademark enforcement requires proactive and diligent management of your trademark portfolio. It’s important to keep records of your trademark use, registration, and enforcement efforts. Working with a qualified trademark attorney is highly recommended for effective enforcement. An attorney can help you develop a comprehensive enforcement strategy, handle negotiations, and represent you in legal proceedings to protect and defend your valuable trademark rights.
Why Trademark Registration Matters for Fort Wayne Businesses
Fort Wayne, Indiana is experiencing a revival in recent years. It’s a family-friendly destination that has a reputation for excellent restaurants, an emerging art scene, and outdoor entertainment options. It’s a dream location for entrepreneurs to start their new ventures.
Small business owners in Fort Wayne aren’t afraid to work hard to be successful. But, sometimes they get so busy that they forget the most important part of starting a new business—trademark registration.
Imagine the following: Cindy is ready to follow her dream of opening her own nail salon in downtown Fort Wayne. She sees the perfect location in the West Central neighborhood and decides to take a chance and signs the lease. She calls her shop Luxury Nails.
Cindy knows that she can’t use that name if there’s another shop with the same name so she conducts a quick Google search. No other nail salons with that name pop up in the area, so she figures that she’s good to go.
The next several months are a flurry of activity. Cindy develops a marketing plan, orders signage for the shop hires nail technicians and creates a website. She even orders aprons with her logo on them.
Finally, she’s ready to open for business. Cindy’s instinct that this neighborhood needed a nail salon was correct. New customers are flocking to her shop and telling their friends. She’s excited about all of this early success.
What Cindy doesn’t realize is that there’s a nail salon in Indianapolis with the name Luxurious Nails. That salon didn’t come up in her Google search because it wasn’t an exact match. The owners of the Indianapolis shop saw Cindy’s salon when they were scouting the area for a second location. They think that there’s too much of a similarity between the names of each salon.
Because the owners of the Indianapolis salon registered their trademark with the USPTO, they are well within their rights to send a cease-and-desist letter to Cindy and her to close her shop or face legal action.
Never rely on Google to find if your desired trademark already exists. If you need to register a trademark, start by hiring a trademark attorney who can conduct a full trademark search on your behalf.
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 Fort Wayne and yet it can assist businesses from Indiana in registering a federal Trademark because trademarks are governed under federal law.
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