Frequently Asked Questions
A trademark clearance search should be conducted before using the trademark in commerce and prior to filing a trademark application. It is imperative to determine if you have the legal right to use the trademark with your goods and/or services before investing in the brand and filing an application with the United States Patent & Trademark Office or with the State trademark office. Furthermore, should you neglect to conduct a search you may infringe on the trademark rights of another party and expose yourself or your business to litigation and liability. In the United States, trademark rights are acquired through use in commerce and registration. Therefore, a search of both registered rights and unregistered rights (common law rights) should be performed before use or registration of the mark.Should I include the words alone in my trademark application or also include the design or logo?
As the trademark applicant you decide how to represent your mark in the application. However, there are strategic business reasons for either filing for words alone (commonly referred to as a "standard character format" or word mark) or for words plus a design. The USPTO has a designated standard character set, click this link to review the standard characters: https://www.uspto.gov/trademark/standard-character-set.
If you wish to use terms or characters not listed in the designated set of characters, then you must file the "stylized format". When you file for a standard character format or word mark you have the right to use the trademark or term in any manner of presentation, including any font style, any size letters, or any color. Registration of a trademark in standard character provides for the broadest type of protection. The stylized format is more restrictive. It protects a specific stylized appearance and/or design. In reality, your budget may influence this decision. If you have a considerable budget, then often two separate applications will be filed, one for words alone, the second for design alone or design plus words, depending on how the trademark is used with the goods or services.Should I as an individual own a trademark or should my company be the named owner?
If a business entity has been created under the laws of the state and the mark is used in connection with the business, typically the entity would be named as the trademark owner. However, if no business entity is formed then the individual is commonly named as the trademark owner, if he or she is controlling the quality of the goods or services. In the future, should an entity be formed and registered with the state or county where you are conducting business, then an assignment should be filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office, Assignment Division. See our blog post entitled, Determining Who Should Legally Own A Trademark for the advantages and disadvantages of individual verses business entity ownership.What are the fees associated with filing a trademark application at the United States Patent & Trademark Office?
The fees depend on the type of application you file and the number of international classifications you include in the trademark application. The lowest fee currently available is $225.00 per classification for the TEAS PLUS application. This application has the strictest requirements. The most significant of which is the applicant must utilize an identification of goods or services from the Manual of Acceptable IDs. Sometimes, this will not be possible because the accepted identifications may not include unusual descriptions or cutting edge or new technology. The next lowest fee is $275.00 per international class for the TEAS REDUCED FEE (TEAS RF). This application does not require an applicant to select a description of the goods or services from the Trademark ID Manual. Instead, an applicant can create his or her own description. However, an email address must be provided and you must authorize the Trademark Office to send communications via email. You must also agree to file certain documents online. Lastly, if an applicant chooses to forego the electronic filing and mails in the trademark application, the filing fee is $375 per international class. Finally, if you have an attorney represent you at the Trademark Office there will also be a professional fee.
If you have any questions not answered on this page or on our website or blog, please contact our office and we would be happy to speak with you.