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how to trademark a product

How to Trademark a Product: The Ultimate Guide

By John DiGiacomo

Do you need to know how to trademark a product? Check out our ultimate guide to get started and protect your work today.

A trademark legal battle has waged over the word “Apple” for three decades. You see, the Beatles named their music company Apple Corps.

Eight years later Steve Jobs came along with Apple Inc. After decades of fighting, Apple Inc has paid almost $100 million to Apple Corp. They worked it out for now, but it is a lesson for all of us.

Knowing how to trademark a product can help you avoid situations like this. Avoiding a generic name and doing a thorough search would have helped prevent this from happening.

Keep reading our guide to find out the basics of trademark registration.

What Can Be Trademarked

You can trademark a word, symbol, device, or color. You can trademark anything that identifies your company and goods in the marketplace.

You can only trademark commercial marks. There are three types of trademarks you can get.

Trademarks and service marks are phrases, words, or symbols. A Trademark indicates a good while a service mark indicates a service.

Collective marks work like a trademark but signify a group. This lets the different members of the group benefit from the trademark.

Certification marks are for the characteristics of your product. For example, if your product has “100% silk”.

How to Trademark a Product

Once you have a chosen mark that you want to register, you have 5 steps to take. The first step in the process is to check that you have a unique mark.

Step 1: Search for Similar trademarks

Search the USPTO database for similar marks. Do not focus on looking for exact matches.

Anything that looks or sounds similar can trigger a rejection. Take your time with this search, if your application gets rejected your fee.

It is smart to hire a trademark attorney before you begin this step. They will understand the database and the best way to find any potentially confusing marks.

Step 2: Prepare and File your Application with USPTO

You’ve done your search and there are no marks like yours. Now you’ll want to prepare your application for submission.

Gather proof of how you are currently using the mark. This proof is called your specimen.

Step 3: Review Your Application

About three months after you submit your application, the USPTO will assign you an attorney. This attorney reviews your application and does one of two things.

He may respond to your application with a request for calcification. If he’s happy with your application he will approve it for the next step.

Sep 4: Review of Trademark by the Public

The USPTO attorney will give your mark a publication date. On this day your trademark gets published in the Official Gazette.

There is a 30-day window after publication for someone to object to your trademark. They would need to make this objection on the basis that your mark will impact their trademark.

Step 5: Use your Registered Trademark

If no one objects during step four then you get your trademark. About three months after step four is complete you will receive a trademark certificate in the mail.

Once your registration is complete you can start using the trademark symbol after your mark. This is the “R” in a circle.

How To Speed up the Process

You will start to hear from the USPTO about your application within 3 months of filing. The whole process will take at least 6 months though.

Often the process can take a year or longer. There are a few steps you can take to speed up the process though.

Read our post about trademark registration process here.

Choose a Strong Mark

Not all names and symbols get approved. The stronger and more unique your mark, the more likely it will get approved.

Make up a word, or choose a word that is not associated with the industry. You can also pick a name suggesting the character of service without naming it.

Don’t Choose a Confusing Mark

What is the likelihood of confusion of your mark?

The purpose of registering a trademark is to protect your image in the market. By choosing an easily confused name you are likely to have it rejected.

Choose a mark too close to a competitor and you are likely to have it opposed. A search for similar marks should help you avoid this before you submit your application.

Begin Using Your Mark ASAP

If you are already using your mark you can select “use in commerce” on your application. This gives you one less step to do during the application process.

Make Sure Your Application is Correct

Making mistakes in your application will cause a delay in the process. These mistakes are easy to fix, but they take time.

Respond to the USPTO Promptly

If you receive correspondence from the USPTO you need to respond for your application to keep moving forward. The deadline to respond is 6 months, but you shouldn’t wait until the deadline to reply.

How Long Are Trademarks Good For

Once approved, you have trademark protection for ten years. This means that every ten years you will need to renew your registration.

Get Help to File For Your Trademark

The first step in getting a trademark registration is to come up with a unique mark. This can be a word, symbol or device.

Make sure that you choose a strong and unique mark. Then begin using it right away.

Do a search for similar trademarks that are currently registered. Make sure that yours is not similar or easily confused with any of them.

Once you are confident you have a unique mark, create an application. Review it for any errors and then submit it to the USPTO.

Once your application is submitted, follow the lead of the USPTO. Respond to any communications they send so your application will continue to process.

These steps are detailed and can take months to complete. If you are unsure of how to trademark a product the best option is to get help for a trademark attorney.

Get help today with registering your mark for trademark protection.

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