The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) conducts an intensive examination of every trademark application submitted by individuals, groups and organizations. Keep in mind that registering your trademark, which can be an image, words or sound, can be a challenging task because of the strict requirements and process, especially if you’re taking it on your own.
We suggest that you hire an experienced trademark agent or attorney to handle the dirty work, so to speak. But it also pays to know the basics of the initial application process since it’s your trademark and the rights and responsibilities that come with it rests squarely on your shoulders.
Select Your Mark Properly
If you want to start the trademark registration process on the right foot, you have to select your mark properly. You have to choose it with extreme care since not every mark can be registered with the USPTO and not every mark can also be legally protected. In case of the latter, a mark may be unacceptable as a basis for a legal claim by its owner who wants to prevent others from using a similar mark on related products and/or services.
You don’t want to make the rookie mistake of submitting an initial application for your trademark only to find out that it cannot be registered. Aside from checking that, indeed, it can be registered, you have to determine the ease and effectiveness of protecting it based on its strength.
You have to take note, too, that USPTO isn’t responsible for the enforcement of your trademark – its primary function is to register trademarks and patents. You, the trademark owner, have the primary and exclusive responsibility for its enforcement including when others are using it to their commercial advantage.
You should also take note of the acceptable format of marks before submission to the USPTO. You must also precisely identify your products and/or services that the mark will be applied on.
Search the Database
Before you file a trademark application, you should also search the USPTO database for similar marks. Your main goal: To determine whether another individual or organization has already claimed trademark rights similar to your mark and used them on related products and/or services through a federal registration.
A clearance search will save costs on trademark registration, too, since the USPTO generally doesn’t grant refunds. Thus, even if your initial application isn’t approved for one reason or another, a refund check won’t be in your mail.
You must also know that any and all personal information submitted to the USPTO at any point in the application and registration process becomes public record. Your full name, phone number and e-mail address, and street address will be part of the public database, which may or may not be a cause for concern on your part.