Your logo helps to distinguish your brand from your competitors. The first step to creating a business will be to select a name, design your logo and even come up with taglines to define your business in the marketplace. Taking steps to protect your logo ensures that your unique trademarks are not infringed and do not also interfere with other registered trademarks. Here is a step-by-step guide to take you through the registration of trademarks in the United States.
Step 1: Identify your defining mark
It is extremely important to determine which type of mark applies to your trademark as this will be the main subject of the trademark. There are three type of marks. These include a standard character mark, design marks and sound marks. The standard character mark is a combination of any words, letters or even numbers. Design marks, on the other hand, are an appearance or style that you would like protected such as a logo. The roaring lion in MGM’s logo is an example of a sound mark.
Step 2: Determine if there are other similar trademarks
You want to make sure that your newly designed trademark is available for use. One way to achieve this is by searching the United States Patent and Trademark Office for other similar trademarks. This search will tell you if anyone else has the trademark or anything else that may be regarded as highly similar to your logo. You can choose to conduct the search through the USPTO database or to use some of the company’s offering such services. However, an attorney will be better placed to conduct the search for you since they can define the search criteria and analyze the search results with the legal implications in mind.
Step 3: File an application with the USPTO or your state secretary
There are two ways to gain the rights of using your logo. Filing an application with your state’s secretary will offer you limited rights to using your logo but filing the same with the United States Patent and Trademark Office guarantee you full unlimited rights. Presenting the application can be done through an online system (The Trademark Electronic Application System) which checks the completion of your application and enables you to track the trademark process. Alternatively, you can also send the trademark to the Commissioner of Trademarks by mail or hand deliver it to the Trademark Assistance Center.
Step 4: Set up a trademark watch service
In the event that your trademark application is accepted and verified, you need to ensure other companies do not infringe on your trademark. A trademark watch is often an organization or law firm that you pay for a third party to guard against other people infringing on your trademarks. They will duly advise you on some of the instances that your trademark is infringed. You can send a cease and desist letter or institute trademark infringement lawsuits, through your trademark watch, if the trademark is broken.
These simple steps offer you the knowledge you need to register your trademark. A registered trademark offers your business the protection it needs to set it apart from your competitors and also protects your intellectual property.