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What Is a Trademark or Servicemark?

A trademark is a word, name, symbol, or device that is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. A servicemark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The terms “trademark” and “mark” are commonly used to refer to both trademarks and servicemarks.

Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark. Trademarks that are used in interstate or foreign commerce may be registered with the USPTO. The registration procedure for trademarks and general information concerning trademarks can be found in the separate book entitled “Basic Facts about Trademarks.”


How is a Trademark Different from a Patent or Copyright?

A patent is “’the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling’ the invention in the United States or ‘importing’ the invention into the United States.”

A trademark on the other hand is “a word, name, symbol, or device that is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others.”

Copyright is defined as “a form of protection provided to the authors of "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished.”

Thus, a patent protects the manufacturing and sale of an invention, trademark protects a symbol and/or name and copyright protects “works of authorship”, or artistic works.


How Long Does a Trademark Registration Last?

The registration is valid as long as you timely file all post registration maintenance documents. You must file a "Declaration of Use under Section 8" between the fifth and sixth year following registration. In addition, you must file a combined "Declaration of Use and Application for Renewal under Sections 8 and 9" between the ninth and tenth year after registration, and every 10 years thereafter. If these documents are not timely filed, your registration will be cancelled and cannot be revived or reinstated. For more information see Maintain/Renew a Registration.


How Long does it Take to get a Trademark?

It is difficult to predict exactly how long it will take an application to mature into a registration, because there are so many factors that can affect the process. Generally, an applicant will receive a filing receipt approximately three weeks after filing, which will include the serial number of the application. All future correspondence with the USPTO must include this serial number. You should receive a response from the Office within six to seven months from filing the application. However, the total time for an application to be processed may be anywhere from almost a year to several years, depending on the basis for filing, and the legal issues which may arise in the examination of the application.


How Much Does it Cost to get a Trademark?

The filing fees for an application filed electronically through the Trademark Electronic Application System(TEAS) are as follows:

  • $225 per class of goods or services for a TEAS Plus application that meets the requirements of 37 C.F.R. §2.22;
  • $275 per class of goods or services for a TEAS Reduced Fee (TEAS RF) application that meets the requirements of 37 C.F.R. §2.23; or
  • $325 per class of goods or services for a TEAS Regular application, which does not have the additional requirements of a TEAS Plus or TEAS RF application.

The fee for applications filed on paper is $375 per class of goods or services.

If your application is filed based on a bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce, additional documents and fees will be required at a later time.


When is my Trademark Protected?

The registered trademark symbol may only be used once the mark is accepted and registered. However, your right to use the mark begins as soon as you use it in commerce providing that no one has previously registered or used the same mark.

Is registration of my mark required?

No. You can establish rights in a mark based on legitimate use of the mark. However, owning a federal trademark registration on the Principal Register provides several advantages, e.g.

  • constructive notice to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership of the mark;
  • a legal presumption of the registrant's ownership of the mark and the registrant's exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration;
  • the ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court;
  • the use of the U.S registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries; and
  • the ability to file the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.


When can I use the trademark symbols TM, SM and ®?

Any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the "TM" (trademark) or "SM" (service mark) designation to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO. However, you may use the federal registration symbol "®" only after the USPTO actually registers a mark, and not while an application is pending. Also, you may use the registration symbol with the mark only on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the federal trademark registration.


Can I file myself without and Attorney?

Yes. But you must comply with all of the regulations and requirements of the trademark Statutes and Rules.

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