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How to Register a Trademark

You don’t have to register a trademark to have a legal claim on one. This is called common law rights.

Advantages of Registering a Trademark

However, you may want to consider the following benefits to formally registering a trademark:

  • It’s additional evidence of trademark ownership
  • It’s a formal nationwide notice for the trademark owner
  • You can use a trademark obtained in the United States to obtain registration in other countries
  • The Customs Service will accept the filing. This will prevent the importation of foreign goods that infringe the trademark.
  • It excludes others from using the mark

If you decide to register a mark you need to use TEAS.


To apply for an application, you need to go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website (

While you can file a paper application, the patent office prefers that you complete the application online via the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).

TEAS will ask you for the following information:

  • The mark’s owner, entity type, address and email information
  • Information about the mark. This includes whether it’s standard characters or a design. You’ll have to provide the mark.
  • Goods and services information. This will become the class code your mark is ultimately filed under.
  • Why are you filing for a trademark?  The options are that you’re using the mark now, you intend to use the mark and that foreign application or registration exists for the same goods and services.
  •  If you’re using the mark now, you’ll have to supply a specimen of the use of the mark in commerce.
  • Correspondence Information. This tells the office where to send and inquiries or questions (if you’re using an attorney, for example)
  • Fees. Fees vary depending upon the number of classes you want your mark listed under, but right now it’s $325 for one class—nonrefundable.
  • Signature information.

It’s a good idea to prepare the answers to all of these questions and prepare the specimens before you being to interact with the TEAS system. Currently, information is not saved. If you don’t get through the system in one sitting you’ll have to start all over again.

Educate yourself about trademarks prior to applying for one. Make sure you understand how and why it may work for you. Attorneys and on line services are available to complete the form for you. But you can also do it yourself and save those fees.

How to Patent an Invention or Idea

If you have an idea or invention that you feel may be patentable you’ll want to first ask yourself three questions. Is it:

  • Original- this means your invention has to be 100% original
  • Non-Obvious- this means the invention must be different than what exists
  • Useful- the invention must serve a useful purpose

Note that an idea can’t be patented. The person who has the foresight to turn an idea into an invention and then patent it, will be the recognized owner of the invention.

Steps to Patent an Invention

Do a patent search- You want to be sure the idea hasn’t already been patented. So, a thorough search to determine whether or not a patent already exists needs to be done.

You can use the search tools on the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website ( to see what patents have been granted.

Determine the patent type- According to the patent office, there are five types of patents:

  • A Utility Patent can be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, compositions of matter or any new useful improvement thereof.
  • A Design Patent may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture
  • A Plant Patent can be granted to anyone who invents or discovers an asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.
  • A Provisional Patent is a less expensive alternative to filing a non-provisional patent but it’s only good for 12 months. Then you have to file a non-provisional patent.
  • A International Patent may also be filed

Once you determine the type of patent your invention falls under, then you file the patent. Patent forms are available at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website.

Patent Form Information

When you complete a patent application, you’ll have to provide the following information:

  • A written document which comprises a specification (meaning description and claims) and an oath or declaration
  • A drawing in those situations where a drawing is necessary
  • Filing, search and documentation fees

Filing a patent can be complicated. Getting it done right and in a timely fashion may be worth a consultation with a patent attorney.

Fees can run into the hundreds of dollars. For example, for a utility patent, the current filing fee is $330 or $165 for a small entity.