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 (http://www.uspto.gov).
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.