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:
  1. Make sure your mark is not too descriptive of the product, or it may be seen as too generic for registration.
  2. Get a good trademark attorney. The USPTO rejects applications with even minor errors and pays no refund.
  3. 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.
  4. Use the name in interstate commerce, using the TM symbol.
  5. If you are registering a pictorial mark, make sure you also own the copyright.
  6. Now you can have your lawyer submit a registration to the USPTO, at a cost of about $300 per mark.
  7. After five years of continuous use, file an affidavit of continued use with the USPTO. Now your trademark is incontestable.
  8. Every ten years, pay the renewal fee.
After you have registered your trademark, make sure to follow these rules:

DISCLAIMER: Nothing you see on Everything2.com is legal advice. Only an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction can give legal advice.

The trade mark, in essence, describes which corporation is responsible for providing you with a good. It allows for branding, in which millions of dollars are given to people in wire rimmed glasses who sit around on MacBooks and iPads thinking up new quirky ways to tell you you're better than other people and have a better chance of getting laid if you use THEIR company's product versus the product of another.

Hands up anyone who thinks me buying the very latest Nike T-shirt versus, say, an Adidas T-shirt or even a cheap C9 found in Target will make me any more athletic or better at what I do.

Now hold on Angie, some might say - that's very cynical. The purpose of a trademark is to make sure the government protects you in terms of making sure you are purchasing the quality product that you are expecting to get!

Well, fair enough. I mean, the Dr. Martens company for years was the producer of a very reliable excellent and comfortable working man's boot, a leather bovver boot whose sole was impervious to gasoline, oil, and acids. It was a comfortable, well made product, suitable for anything from factory work to farming and yes, In fact, so good and so prized, that people were mugged for them in North America because of the marked up prices for them when they were the province of punk stores and small importers.

indeed, I would have been very upset to be sold an inferior counterfeit wearing that brand. How interesting then that they moved all production to Vietnam and now the boots, nasty hide and inferior leather - fall apart at an alarming rate, having been now produced by the cheapest possible means with the most corporate profit-taking corners cut. The price however, has gone up. And they still have that brand, though. Total assurance of quality and British workmanship, right? The company have responded with a special offer. Pay about $200 for the boots (that once cost £19.99, about $40) and when they fall apart send them back and we'll send you a new pair.

Take Cadbury. Anglophiles and people of English descent love to have Cadbury's Easter Creme eggs and/or Dairy Milk bars every now and then. In fact, some small importers and companies like Publix were happy to obtain the genuine article from the UK and sell them in their stores. But then vomit flavored wax merchants Hershey, who sell a vile product that nobody wants outside of America, and even then when people have options they exercise them - purchased the rights to the Cadbury name. So cease and desist letters have now gone out to various importers warning them that according to the corporate profit protection system we call a legal system, only Hershey has the right to sell anything in the US with that set of markings on it.

Because people won't get utterly confused if they bite into an Easter Cream egg expecting a combination of chocolate and sweet cream and get a mouthful of vomit and high fructose corn syrup because Hershey BOUGHT THE RIGHTS to market whatever they want under that name, right? Hershey argued that the reason they're banning the right product has nothing to do with corporate profit but the fact that a consumer seeking out an imported article from a specialty shop might get completely confused as to what they're actually getting.

"You're just confused" is stereotypically the same thing an angsty mom says who's just found out her son is gay, and is in denial about that because what she really wants is for him to sire her some grandchildren. Just saying.

As for origin, it's not as though everything isn't made in the same Chinese factory these days. I mean, it's not as though pricey, glass-bottled Grey Goose vodka and mass produced cheap Costco bulk brand Kirkland vodka don't come out of the same vat, into different bottles right? Oh wait, they do. 






Trademarks are fascinating things. Many folks don't realize that each state in the US also has a trademark registration system in place. While national ones are useful, there are some trademarks that are only needed for a small area like a state. Think about a small plumbing company that has a particular logo. They're not a national brand, but they want to prevent other plumbers in Colorado or Texas from appropriating the logo and the associated good will, which is something that can be added to a corporation's accounting books.

The state-based systems are much cheaper to use, although all it prevents is someone from using your trademark with that state. I own a trademark for a publishing company and it cost only fifty bucks. If someone attempted to register a similar trademark at the federal level, the previously existing state trademark can be used to show previous and active use. Then someone can go ahead and spend the big bucks for the federal version if needed. Getting a federal trademark will run you around $1500 each, including fees and legal fees. Note that each piece needs to be registered, like a logo and a tag line. If you can, keep everything together to prevent multiple fees for each piece.

If you're bored, you can actually scroll through the TESS system, which is the federal trademark electronic search system. Some folks jump on expiring trademarks and turn a profit.

Directions for registering trademarks or searching the system are available at the official website:

If you just want to search, the direct link to the TESS database is: http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=login&p_lang=english&p_d=trmk

Some History

Back in the early days of metalwork and art, artisans and specific businesses used small marks on their products to show that the item was legitimate. These marks ranged from a signature to a tiny impression in the materials. Of course, cheap knock-offs were rampant until the governments began registering and allowing legal action for interlopers. Folks from Paul Revere, who was a silversmith by trade, to status-minded companies like Tiffany use specific marks to indicate something is an original. If you watch shows like Antique Roadshow, you'll hear the experts talk about trademarks all the time.

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