The Six-Step Process for Filing a Trademark

When starting a new business, one of the first things you need to do is come up with a business name and logo. Obtaining a trademark for your name and logo is an important part of that process, not only because it will protect your intellectual property but because it will ensure you don’t accidentally infringe on that of someone else. The process of filing a trademark can be quite complex. In this blog, we will walk you through the six basic steps.

The first step involves selecting the proper format for your trademark depending on what you are trying to protect. There are three possible mark formats that may apply:

  • Sound mark: a jingle or other tune that represents your brand—for example, the roaring lion sound for MGM.
  • Design/stylized mark: an appearance or design, such as a logo. It may or may not have letters or words.
  • Standard character mark: a combination of numbers, letters, or words, such as the name of a business, without taking style or font into consideration. By rights, it can be used for any type of presentation.

2. Properly Identify Your Mark

You must choose a legally acceptable identification to represent the services or goods that you offer. Getting it wrong may prevent your mark from being registered. First, you need to determine whether you provide services, such as consulting or personal assistance, or goods like digital or physical products. Next, you’ll need to determine the appropriate ID for your goods or services by looking in the ID Manual. If you don’t find the specific service or good you provide and are applying with the regular form (not Plus), you can describe your product or service in the available space.

3. Check for Similar Companies

After determining your ID, you should check to make sure there are no other similar marks. Don’t just look for marks that are the same; you should also be checking for marks that provide a high likelihood of confusion. Your application may be turned down if something similar has already been applied for or registered.

4. Know Your Basis for Filing

Before applying, you need to know what your basis is. Choose from one of two options:

  • Intent to use: this means your service or product is market-ready and you intend to use it. This choice requires an additional form and fee.
  • Use in commerce: this means you have already used the mark in products or sales. You will need to establish an example of where it was used.

5. File Your Application

Finally, file your application through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). You can choose from the regular form or TEAS Plus, which has stricter requirements but a lower filing fee.

To complete the TEAS form, you must:

  • Make sure your filed form is complete.
  • Choose your ID from the ID Manual.
  • Pay all fees when you file.
  • File any communications about your application through TEAS.
  • Agree to accept all communications through email.

You should know that the filing process may include strict deadlines, and your data becomes public once you have filed. Also, if you get the application wrong or are denied approval, your filing fee will not be refunded.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help When going through the trademark process, it is best to have an attorney with experience in intellectual property law on your side to walk you through each of these steps. One mistake during any part of this process can result in you losing out on your trademark. Contact Integrated General Counsel today for all of your intellectual property needs.

Written by Integrated General Counsel

Our focus includes handling a variety of corporate matters and also includes litigation in state and federal courts. Our current practice includes providing transactional services and representing a variety of small and medium-sized companies as their outsourced general counsel.