How it Works
Michael P. Martin
Kieran De Terra
San Diego Trademark Lawyers
Trademark registration ranks high on the to-do list of new businesses, and, lately, those new businesses have been flocking to San Diego. In fact, according to the Kauffman Foundation's report on startup activity, San Diego has ranked in the top ten start-up cities for two years in a row now. As of 2016, there are almost 155 start-ups for every 100,000 people in the San Diego metro area.
To keep your business's name, logo, and/or slogan safe and unique to your company, you need to register your trademark. Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will official register your mark, they have to approve it for registration. By hiring San Diego, CA trademark attorneys, you have a 50 percent or higher chance of having your trademark approved. So it's time to start shopping for the best San Diego trademark lawyer.
Why Hire a Trademark Attorney in San Diego, CA?
As a business owner, one of your top priorities is to manage risk. That applies to your intellectual property, or IP, just as it does to your financials or your employees. Your trademarks are a key part of your IP, and if you fail to protect them with proper registration and enforcement, you expose your IP portfolio to the risk of lawsuits. And, if you lose those lawsuits, you lose all the effort, money, and time you've invested into associating that particular mark, name, etc. with your brand of service or product.
You don't want to lose the goodwill you infuse into your company's name, logo, and other branding materials simply because you didn't have a good trademark lawyer telling you what you need to do. In a nutshell, here's what the best San Diego trademark attorneys will do for you:
- Deterrence. As previously discussed, a trademark attorney will prepare a trademark registration application in a way that maximizes your chances of approval. Early registration will deter other companies from infringing on your mark down the road, as registration puts them on notice that the mark is protected and presumptively belongs to your company.
- Prevention. Prompt registration of your trademarks also helps prevent other companies from suing you for infringing on their marks. One of the things a trademark attorney will do for you is run a thorough search in databases of existing marks to ensure that your proposed mark isn't already in use.
- Enforcement. Even with registration, trademark protection will only do so much good if you don't enforce it when others infringe on your mark. The top San Diego trademark lawyers will monitor databases for potential infringement on your mark, help you send letters to any violators, and litigate infringement claims as needed.
How to Find the Best San Diego Trademark Lawyer
As you search for top San Diego trademark attorneys, here are some points to consider:
- The percentage of the attorney's practice dedicated to trademark work. Don't just search for "IP lawyer" in your city and leave it at that. IP law encompasses a lot of things, including patents, which are technical and largely engineering-based, and copyrights, which don't have much overlap with trademark law. Look for an attorney who has done a lot of work with trademarks in the past and continues to work in the area so he or she is current on the law.
- Call or visit the website of the San Diego County Bar Association. San Diego's local bar association has a special section for intellectual property lawyers. The website has the names, numbers, and emails of the chair, vice-chair, and members at large, any of whom will likely be able to refer you or at least give you feedback on the trademark lawyers on your shortlist.
- Free vs. paid databases in trademark availability searches. The best trademark lawyers will use the USPTO's free trademark database in searching for similar existing trademarks as well as paid-subscription databases. Make sure your prospective attorney uses both.
- Professional associations. A good trademark attorney will also know her field well, which means she should also be a member of the International Trademark Association and/or the American Intellectual Property Law Association. True specialists in this area will have memberships like these.
Questions for San Diego Trademark Lawyers
Whether you have an in-person or phone consultation with your prospective trademark attorney, come prepared with the following questions:
- How may United States trademark applications do you or your firm file annually?
- Of all the trademark applications you or your firm have ever filed with the USPTO, how many have been successfully registered?
- Have you registered trademarks for companies in my industry before?
- Who actually conducts the trademark availability searches for your clients? Are they lawyers or paralegals?
- What databases do you use to search for similar existing marks?
- Do you bill with a flat fee or on an hourly basis?
- Have you ever handled trademark infringement litigation? Was your client the plaintiff or defendant? What was the outcome?
- Do you offer trademark watch or monitoring services to protect my mark once it's registered?
Legal Tips and Information
Making Your Name in San Diego
San Diego is home to innovative minds and brilliant ideas. Host to one of the world’s most famous golf courses, it’s also where many outstanding craft breweries got their start. Plus, a big name in the local food industry created burger called the “4x4 Animal Style” there, a name that it is known to locals and visitors alike.
When you’re ready to make your name in San Diego, you should start with a search for the best trademark lawyer for you. A trademark lawyer in San Diego will know all the rules of the road to make sure that both your good name and that cool logo you spent so much time designing is yours and yours alone.
What’s a Trademark Have to Do with Your Name?
If you don’t want your company’s name, the names of your products or that expensive logo used by someone else, you need a trademark. Trademarks can exist locally at something called “common law” but can also be created through a federal trademark application. A San Diego trademark attorney understands the difference between these two protections because of highly specialized training. The best trademark lawyers will have a thorough understanding of both the federal Trademark Act and Trademark Rules of Procedure.
Your trademark lawyer in San Diego will help you protect your name and awesome new logo, otherwise known as your intellectual property. Before you create that website, design those brochures or print those logo golf towels, you should select a trademark lawyer to make sure you that you own your name and logo, and that you haven’t accidentally borrowed the name or logo of someone else (even though 5x5 Animal Style may sound unique to your ears!)
Once you’ve selected from the best trademark lawyers in San Diego to find the right layer for you, your new San Diego trademark attorney will explain the difference between all of the confusing differences between unregistered common law trademarks, registered trademarks, service marks and even copyrights. (Note: only registered federal trademarks let you use that ® symbol.) The best trademark lawyers in San Diego also know that you can register your name, logo or service not only with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The State of California allows for the registration of trademarks and service marks too!
If you’re looking to use a word, phrase, symbol or logo, you’ll want trademark protection. If you have a unique service that goes along with that unique name and snazzy logo, you’ll probably also want a service mark. Your trademark lawyer in San Diego will guide you through this process and will ask you questions and gather information to put together a plan that will give you the best protection. If you’ve already starting using the name, logo and service that needs trademark protection, make sure you gather all the evidence of that use from websites, advertisements and even documents like bills and invoices.
Making Sure Your Name Follows All the Rules
Once you have your information together, even if you haven’t yet started using your name and logo, your San Diego trademark attorney will search the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database of millions of records. The best trademark attorneys will be sure to search the California Secretary of State records too. These searches are important to make sure that your name, logo or service hasn’t already be claimed by someone else and to make sure that you haven’t chosen something that is too similar to another registration.
Once your San Diego trademark attorney has searched all of the records, the next step will be to put together your trademark application. A federal law called the Lanham Act controls what can be trademarked. The State of California follows those same rules. Your name and logo, no matter to fancy or plain, has to meet a few rules. First, you can’t have a name or symbol that is too close to something that’s already registered. “Out-n-In Burger” isn’t going to work. Your name also has to be more than just a description of what you want to sell, how good it is or where it is. So, San Diego Burgers likely can’t be registered. Also, probably most important, your name or logo can’t be immoral, deceptive, or scandalous. We’re not sure what that really means, but your San Diego trademark attorney will!
Protecting Your Good Name
After you’ve made sure that your name isn’t too close to someone else’s, does more than just describe your product and isn’t immoral or scandalous, you’ll work with your San Diego trademark lawyer to file your trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the California Secretary of State.
There are few different ways to register your trademark of service mark with United States Patent and Trademark Office (California has just one). The trademark lawyer you select in San Diego will know the best way to get you the protection you need. Your San Diego trademark attorney will also help you figure out what “classes” to register in. There are forty-five classes of goods and services, with hundreds of sub-classes that might apply to you. If you miss a registration class, you won’t be protected in that area, and that could be a really bad thing.
Now that you’ve selected that classes, your trademark lawyer in San Diego will help you put together the application. Not only do you have to complete a pretty technical form, you also need to include the exact form of your name or logo, a drawing of your name or logo and, if you’ve already use your name or logo as part of your business, 3 examples of you name or logo in use. If you haven’t yet used your name or logo, your trademark lawyer will help you put together a package that shows your intended use.
Once your San Diego trademark attorney submits your trademark application, you’ll get a receipt and serial number from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. After filing, your application will be examined by the government’s attorney. This attorney may ask you trademark lawyer for additional clarification or information about the name, service or logo you want to register. Once you clear all the hurdles, your “mark” as it will be called will be published in something called the Official Gazette. If anyone has any complaints about your mark (but we’ll hope not), they have 30 days to make a complaint. If no one complains during this period, your San Diego trademark lawyer will help you wrap everything up so that your mark will be officially registered.
You Gave Yourself a Good Name, Now What?
After waiting (hopefully) a months and without too much trouble (fingers crossed), you’ve completed the process and you can (and must) now use that nice ® symbol at the end of your name and logo. So now what? Your federal registration is good for an initial 10 years (5 years for a California registration). After that, you’ll still need to work with your San Diego trademark attorney, since you’ll have to file affidavits to keep your registrations alive. If you don’t, they’ll be cancelled and you’ll be back to the drawing board.
Now that you’ve made a good name for yourself, you’ll want to make sure that you protect it. Your federal trademark (or service mark) protects you across the country, even if your hot new burger chain is only located in California. So, if someone in New York decides that they want to use your good name and logo, your trademark lawyer in San Diego will be able to protect you. What can they do? Your trademark lawyer will decide the best game plan from sending a really strongly worded cease and desist letter from bringing a federal trademark infringement lawsuit. If you have to sue, you can recover profits, damages and even attorney fees. Your San Diego trademark lawyer will do whatever is needed to protect your good name.
Supporting You and Your Good Name
A San Diego trademark attorney will be there to help you make your good name and make sure that it’s yours and yours alone. You’ve spent the time (and probably a good amount of money) to come up with a great concept. Just like you invested this time and money coming up with your identity, a trademark lawyer in San Diego will invest the time needed to protect it. Experts in trademarks, they will sift through the millions of trademarks and service marks and the hundreds of confusing use classes to make sure that you can be who and what you want to be. If someone already has taken that great name you wanted to make sure yourself, or has already used something really close to the logo that you designed, your San Diego trademark attorney will be your guide in helping you find a good name that is a right fit for you. Once you’ve made that good name for yourself, your trademark attorney will help protect Working with the best trademark lawyer that you can find will make sure that you have a name worth remembering.
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Legal Services Offered by Our On-Demand San Diego Trademark Attorneys
Our experienced San Diego trademark attorneys & lawyers represent individuals and businesses with everything they need to secure and protect their trademarks. Our attorneys can help individuals with everything from trademark clearance searches to determine whether the desired mark is available for adoption, use, and registration. By reviewing the search reports thoroughly, they can conclusively determine the extent to which a mark is already being used and the potential success of filing a trademark.
Trademark licensing can be complex, but our trademark attorneys have experience drafting agreements on behalf of both licensees and trademark owners - thus allowing you to capitalize on your valuable intellectual property. Our San Diego trademark attorneys can also draft and file your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), including Intent to Use and Use in Commerce applications.
Our attorneys can also help protect your trademark around the globe by assisting clients with filing trademark applications under the Madrid Protocol, which allows trademark holders to obtain protection in multiple countries by filing a single application.
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