How to Apply for a Trademark in the US

Apply for trademark

So far this year over 200,000 trademark applications have been submitted to be reviewed. 

Many business owners register a trademark to protect their brands. But if you've never applied for a trademark before, you may want to check the process. The trademark process is very intricate. 

A Guide To Apply for a Trademark

To help you out, we've created a step by step guide to apply for a trademark. 

Step 1: Choose your mark

The first step in applying for your trademark is choosing what your mark will be. 

This part of the process is maybe the most important because it requires a little investigation on your part. 

Here we'll run you through the most important pieces of this step that will ensure you are choosing correctly.

Step 2: Decide your mark's format

You may think that your brand name is the only way you can register your trademark.

But when you apply for a trademark, you are given the option of how your trademark will look.

There are four ways you can format your trademark:

  • Wordmark: Protects the name of the brand. This also includes their phonetics, that is, if the name of two trademarks is written differently, but sound the same, they will be in conflict since they could confuse the consumer.

  • Stylized: This type of trademark is similar to the word but its difference is that it uses a much more stylized font.

  • Graphic: Protects the logo of the brand.

  • Mixed: This format protects both the name of the trademark (text) and logo.

When you choose to go for a stylized, graphics or mixed trademark, you must include a file along with your application. 

Step 3: Decide how your trademark will be used

The federal government needs to know how your mark will be used. What types of services or goods will the trademark be used for? 

A trademark consultant will advise you on the products or services that your trademark offers in order to determine what class they belong to.

Step 4: Make sure your mark is not already registered 

Imagine going through the expansive trademark process only to find out that your trademark is already registered under a different company.

Before you let that happen, you should make sure to search the database to ensure no one else has your mark registered with a similar name or design. 

Step 5: Prepare your trademark application

You are now ready to start the application, it's time to fill the application form for trademark registration.

Filing Basis

Before you start filling out the form, you need to state your filing basis.

What does this mean? This lets the federal government know how your trademark has been used or if you intend to use it in the future.

There are two forms of filing basis:

  • Use in commerce: This filing basis means that you have already used this mark previously. You will need to submit proof of the use of your trademark.

  • Intent to use: This means that your trademark has not yet been used, but you plan to use it. 

Once this has been established, you are ready to fill out the rest of the application.

Step 6: Filing the application

For your convenience, there are two ways you can apply for a trademark:

  • Online: You can apply for a trademark directly on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. This is known as the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). 

  • Paper: If you prefer the paper option, or you don't have internet access, the USPTO gives you the option to file via a paper form. 

But that's not all. There are three application options that the USPTO offers, all have specific requirements depending on how much you're willing to pay. These are all electronic options, so if you're filing via paper, your fee will be $375.

The three options are:

  • TEAS Regular: This option has recently gone up in price as of January 2017. The cost of this application is $400. The requirements for the TEAS Regular are not as strict. With this option, you do not have to identify the goods or services the trademark will represent. This fee does also not need to be paid up front. There are also no additional processing fees with this TEAS option.

  • TEAS Reduced Fee: This application option is only $275. But there are much more restrictions to the application that you'll need to pay attention to. This option must include an email address, and there are additional processing fees. You will be expected to pay an additional $125 per class of goods. 

  • TEAS Plus: This is the strictest of all the TEAS filing options. At $225 you will be expected to include all of the requirements of your application. This includes identifying your goods and services, and the fee must be paid up front. This option also includes an additional $125 fee for each class of goods or services you register with.

Step 7: Registration Process

Once you have filed your application for trademark registration, you will then be assigned an examining attorney. This attorney will not work for you, but with you on behalf of the USPTO. 

The trademark registration is a long process, it may take up to one year. The examiner will ensure that the law is not being violated and will review it for any issues that may prevent you from approval.

Office Action

If there is, in fact, an issue with your application or trademark, the examining attorney will issue what is known as an Office Action. This is a letter stating the reason for denial. 

If you receive one of these letters, you have six months to respond to the issues. 

Apply for a trademark with help

When you apply for a trademark in the USA, you will soon realize what a difficult process it is. And it can seem daunting when you do it yourself. 

But there is help available for you. If you do not decide to hire an attorney, there are other options available to assist you.

There are professionals who specialize in working with the trademark process who can give you important insights as you move through the process.

If you are ready to apply for a trademark but still need assistance, reach out to a professional for help. 

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