When one starts a business, apart from planning for all financial, manufacturing and personnel considerations, the brand of the product or the service also plays a critical part. Customers have to identify with the brand to ensure success of the enterprise. Brands when legally protected by registration are called trademarks. To effectively monetize your product or service, the trademark has to be unique, easily recallable by the customer and must give you the exclusive use of the brand.
Designing the appearance of the trademark is not sufficient. You need to establish your ownership of the trademark so that you can be protected from people who may want to exploit its popularity by appropriating the trademark for their use. By registering your trademark, you ensure that you are legally protected for ownership of the brand and can take legal steps to prevent infringement of your rights.
Registration of trademarks is done at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or the USPTO. The USPTO is responsible for implementing all laws pertaining to Intellectual Property rights and extending protection under such laws to all those who register their trademarks, copyrights for works of art and patents for engineering discoveries.
The registration of a trademark begins with the application in a standard form, available with the USPTO, being made with the office. Once the application is received by the USPTO, it is reviewed to ensure that all necessary minimum requirements have been met. If they have not, all the documents submitted including the application and the fee would be returned. If all the requirements are met, a serial number is assigned to it and a formal receipt is sent about two months after the submission.
This is just the beginning and you cannot yet start using the trademark. The next step in the process is to get the attorney assigned by the PTO to examine the trademark. The attorney will conduct a search in the database for registered trademarks to eliminate the possibility of a similar trademark already being registered. If such is the case, the application is likely to be rejected. With so many trademarks having been registered, it is an arduous and time-consuming process.
To prevent the possibility of rejection, you should ensure that the trademark sought to be registered by you bears no resemblance to any already registered. You can hire a professional to conduct such a search or do it yourself though it is advisable that you hire a professional lawyer well experienced in this work to save on time. Such a lawyer will also assume all responsibilities towards the legalities in the registration process.
Usually, there are two aspects to a trademark, the word/s and the symbol/s. In case the symbol has been rejected by the PTO through a letter or a phone call, they will also give you the reasons for the rejection. You should study the objections and take such steps as necessary to satisfy the PTO by getting it reexamined by the lawyer. Perhaps redesigning the symbol will be sufficient.
Registering a trademark is a lengthy and time-consuming process. If you want to proceed at a higher speed, it is best that you hire a trademark lawyer who will take care of all documentation and other requirements. They will also conduct a search prior to submission to ensure that the design chosen will pass muster at the PTO.
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