A brand of a business is an important asset to protect. It is the part of the company that communicates to the consumers and gives them an insight into how their products and services can be a part of their lives. This brand/logo/phrase needs protection, as there are a lot of competitors out there ready to copy the product’s name or service.
This is where a registered trademark comes into the picture. A registered trademark is an intellectual property that is a protective cover for the brand and investment the company has made. It lets the other businesses know about the existence of such logos or names. Thereby prohibiting them from further using it in their company. It also acts as an indication of ownership of the product or service.
Usually, a trademark is registered by new ventures. But sometimes, when an existing company is introducing a new product or service, they want people to know its origin. People recognize the brand and therefore they show their trust in the new product. Although it is not the only objective of registering a trademark, it is surely an advantage of it.
Legal Points On Trademark
Before diving into how a trademark is identified and registered, here are some of the legal points of which every business should be aware.
Trademarks are registered at both state and federal levels. United States Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO) is the primary authority to apply for the registration of trademarks. It is a federal authority that accepts applications from businesses that are engaged in interstate commerce.
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1. What Are TEAS?
TEAS is an acronym for the USPTO electronic application system. The full form of TEAS is a trademark electronic application system. When any business applies for trademark registration, there are three types of forms. TEA Plus, TEAS reduced fee, and TEAS regular are the three kinds. The major difference between all three is the fee structure.
2. Which TEAS Form Is Best For Your Business?
Other than the major cost difference, there are also various distinct features that cannot be overlooked. When a business is willing to file an online application for registering its trademark, the most suitable form shall be TEAS standard/ plus. On the other hand, some businesses are more inclined towards physical forms, which is why they favor TEAS regularly. It also applies to all the communications you receive from USPTO, whether electronic or physical.
3. What are the Types of Applications for Trademark?
Generally, there are two types of applications that are based on the timeline within which the trademark is to be registered.
- Intend to Use
- Use in Commerce
The intent to use the application persists when you want to use the trademark anytime in the future and are willing to register it before. The future date is within six months from the date of application. Either the business or the product has not been launched yet.
Use in Commerce is the type of application for the trademark which is currently being used by the company. An existing trademark can be registered by putting the exact date on the application form from which the business started using it.
How To Register Trademark
Now, after going through the forms and online application portal, here are some of the steps through which businesses can easily register their applications.
1. Identification of Trademark
The first step is to identify the trademark that the business intends to use. A specific mark or a logo should not be in existing use by any business. It should be unique and must have the ability to connect to consumers, existing as well as potential.
A basic guideline on the selection of a trademark, whether it is a logo, slogan, or sound, should be that it links to the product and service that the business provides. It should not simply be descriptive or generic. It can also be an arbitrary mark that consumers can spot, even in a crowd. These marks are innovative and hence easiest to protect. It can also be suggestive that characterizes the qualities of the products.
2. Search Your Proposed Trademark
Trademark Electronic Search System, commonly known as TESS, is an application that allows you to search the USPTO database of trademarks. After deciding on the trademark, the next step will be to ensure that there is no trademark similar to your proposed mark. It allows search not only from the existing marks the businesses have but also from the applications that are pending for registration of a trademark.
After going on the website, click on the “Basic Work Mark Search” for new users. There are also advanced search options that allow you to search for options after limiting a particular field.
If you find a mark similar to yours, it is always advised to modify or change your trademark. An application fee is not refundable when an application is rejected. If the application gets rejected due to the similarity of names, you might have to reapply with a fresh fee, which can get quite cumbersome.
3. Ascertain The Class Or Classes For Registration
After deciding and reserving the mark, it is now time to select the class in which the product or service falls. USPTO has introduced a list of trademark classes consisting of 45 categories. The service classes consist of 11 classes while products have 34. These classes assist the authority in keeping track and differentiating between thousands of trademark applications.
The application must mention the correct class for your trademark. The wrong category may often lead to the rejection of registration.
4. Filling The Application Form
Before filling out the application form for registration, it is necessary to determine the filling basis. A filling basis can be a legal or statutory basis for which registration is sought.
The form-filling process is simple. Here are some of the key elements and requirements that need to be entered by the company:
- Ownership Information of the Trademark
- Proposed Mark
- Class of goods or services
- Filling basis, whether legal or statutory
- Information of the attorney
- Declaration and signature
After filling out the application, the submission requires payment of a certain amount of fee depending on the type of application form selected.
Post Filing Requirements
After filling the application form, USPTO assigns the verification process to the examiner that checks whether all the conditions have been met. On that basis, either the application is accepted or rejected.