A trademark is a type of government-granted monopoly
that identifies the origin of a product. Trademarks can include words, phrases, logos, or trade dress
. Here are the easy steps to register a trademark in the United States:
- Make sure your mark is not too descriptive of the product, or it may be seen as too generic for registration.
- Get a good trademark attorney. The USPTO rejects applications with even minor errors and pays no refund.
- Have a trademark search done to make sure that there are no existing marks with which your mark is confusingly similar. You don't want yet another swirl for a logo.
- Use the name in interstate commerce, using the TM symbol.
- If you are registering a pictorial mark, make sure you also own the copyright.
- Now you can have your lawyer submit a registration to the USPTO, at a cost of about $300 per mark.
- After five years of continuous use, file an affidavit of continued use with the USPTO. Now your trademark is incontestable.
- Every ten years, pay the renewal fee.
After you have registered your trademark, make sure to follow these rules:
- Trademarks are adjectives, not nouns or verbs, and must be followed by a generic term. Example: KLEENEX tissues, XEROX copiers, SPAM luncheon meat, DORITOS tortilla chips, JELL-O gelatin, MACINTOSH computers, UNIX system, etc.
- Trademarks must be defended. If you fail to defend a trademark, it will be diluted to the point where it becomes a generic term. This has happened to elevator, escalator, etc. (ASPIRIN® became generic in the United States as part of World War I reparations.) It also opens up a valid defense for the Barely Legal people to use in a trademark infringement or dilution case: "Go sue them first."
DISCLAIMER: Nothing you see on Everything2.com is legal advice. Only an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction can give legal advice.