If you want to trademark a phrase, catchphrase or slogan for your business, the quickest way is to follow these five steps.
1. Create a distinctive phrase, catchphrase or slogan
The first step on the path to a registered trademark is to create a distinctive phrase, catchphrase or slogan. Distinctiveness is necessary for a trademark to be successful and is a legal requirement for successful registration. Something like “BABY RHINO RULES” for a website hosting service is probably sufficiently distinctive to be a good trademark and registrable. But, something like “MICHIGAN FARMS ROCK” is probably not good or registrable for a farm market selling fruits and vegetables.
2. Ensure your phrase, catchphrase or slogan functions as a trademark
The second step on the path to a registered trademark is to ensure that your phrase, catchphrase or slogan functions as a trademark. It is not enough to come up with a clever and memorable phrase. The phrase must relate to some product or service that you are selling in the marketplace. To function as a trademark, the phrase must identify your business as a unique commercial source of some goods or services in the minds of consumers. For example, there were some recent efforts to trademark the phrase “Ok, Boomer” which failed because the phrase was “widely used message.” See NYTimes report here. A phrase that does not identify a business product or service cannot be registered and neither can a widely used phrase or a phrase that is merely informational. On this point, it may be useful to work with an experienced and knowledgeable trademark attorney — like ones at Revision Legal — for legal advice and counsel. There are other legal requirements to be considered, too.
3. Conduct a trademark search
The third step on the path to a registered trademark is to make sure your phrase, catchphrase or slogan is unique. That means you have to make sure that your phrase, catchphrase or slogan is not already being used by another business and not already registered. Using someone else’s trademark will get you sued for trademark infringement. There are various public and restricted databases that should be used for conducting a trademark search. Retaining an experienced and knowledgeable trademark attorney can help with this step.
4. Start using your trademark correctly in interstate commerce
The fourth step on the path to a registered trademark is to begin correctly using your trademark in interstate commerce. You should only do this once you are sure that your trademark is unique. As noted — and it is worth repeating — using someone else’s trademark will get you sued for trademark infringement. Correct use of a trademark in interstate commerce is a legal requirement for registering a trademark.
With respect to use of a trademark, there is a second option: you can file what is called an “intent to use” trademark application. If you want to file an “intent to use” application, then step four should be switched with step five discussed below. With an “intent to use” application, you certify that you intend to use the proposed trademark in the future. This allows you to file the trademark application before use. But, note that use of the trademark will still need to begin before the trademark application can be fully approved by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”).
5. File your application for trademark registration with the USPTO
The final step on the path to a registered trademark for a phrase, catchphrase or slogan is to officially file your application with the USPTO. If your trademark application is deemed legally sufficient and survives the publication period without challenge, then you will receive a Certification of Registration from the USPTO.
Contact Revision Legal
For more information or if you have questions about creating and registering a trademark, contact the trademark lawyers at Revision Legal at 231-714-0100.