Trademarks are an important tool, which protects a brand's identity and products. It is important to protect your brand's identity in such a saturated market as the US. Trademarks protect the Intellectual Property of the business such as the brand name and getting this protection is generally the first step in the process of building a reputable brand. Here is a guide on how to trademark your brand name on your own in the US.
Effectively Trademark My Brand on My Own in the US: The protection granted by a trademark covers the brand’s identity and prevents unauthorised use of the company’s name and products. To trademark a brand name in the US, a registration application has to be filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Although it is not pertinent to secure a trademark immediately, registering your brand name is significant for its identity and protection.
Step to Trademark Your Company Name
Registering a trademark with USPTO is a simple process that has only 3 steps. Each step plays an important role in the trademarking process and provides valuable information about registering a trademark with USPTO.
The first step of the trademarking process is:
The first step in registering a trademark with USPTO without the use of an attorney is to ensure that your brand name is not in conflict with a pre-existing trademark. This can be done through USPTO’s search system i.e. Trademark Electronic Search System (TEAS). TEAS acts as a search engine for the federal database of registered trademarks and it is important to check for conflicts with pre-existing trademarks using TEAS. This search not only includes searching for the same name but also similar ones which may be too similar to be deemed as different. Having a brand name that is similar to a pre-existing trademark may lead to your application being denied by USPTO.
The complex part of this step is determining what pre-existing trademarked name seems too similar to the chosen brand name. Apart from similar names, names carrying similar meanings may also be used as a ground for rejecting the trademark application. Therefore, it is advised to hire a professional who can do this task diligently. Vakilsearch can help you with the cheapest way to file a trademark application in the United States. Vakilsearch will do trademark research, select trademark classes, prepare the application and the required documents, and apply and monitor the examination – publication – registration process.
After ensuring that there is no conflict with a pre-existing trademark, the next step includes applying for the trademark with USPTO. The application can contain a brand name that is already being used by the applicant or a name that the applicant intends to use in the future.
Every trademark application must contain the following things:
- Applicant’s name and address
- Applicant’s citizenship and legal entity
- Address for future correspondence
- Drawing of the desired mark (is only applying a name, no need to include the design)
- Description of the mark
- A specific list of the Goods & Services in the trademark application
- Class of Goods & Services that your product falls under
- Example of the mark in use as well as the date it was first used
- A dated signature of the representative
- The relevant fee for the type and number of classes included in the application (available at USPTO’s website).
After an application is filed with USPTO which includes all the above-mentioned things, the last step in the process of trademarking involves applying with USPTO. This includes choosing between 2 filings options available with USPTO which are TEAS Plus and TEAS Standard. The difference between both these options is $100. TEAS Standard is cheaper than TEAS Plus but has a complicated registration process with higher chances of application rejection.
TEAS Plus has a more streamlined process as it can only be used for a list of pre-approved classes of goods & services, which makes it easier for USPTO to check and register. However, if a custom description of goods & services is required for the trademark application, TEAS Standard should be used.
After choosing the appropriate method of filing the application and filing the application, USPTO will send a confirmation receipt. This receipt is important as it contains a serial number that can be used to get updates regarding the status of the application on the Trademark Status & Document Retrieval (TSDR) portal.
While it isn’t necessary to trademark your brand’s name to get rights and protection in the US, it is advised to trademark your brand name. Without a trademark, using a brand name only grants the company common law rights. These common law rights are nothing compared to the rights granted through a federal trademark. Trademarking your brand name gives you exclusive ownership of the mark. Common law rights only protect a specific geographic area where the company operates but a federal trademark registers the trademark in USPTO’s federal database.
In summary, the first step is to use the TESS software and make sure that there is no conflict. The second step is to prepare the application and include the necessary information in the application. The final step includes filing the application to USPTO which will review, approve and register the trademark.