Trademark Registration: Questions to Ask

Answering the questions below will help prepare you for any problems that may arise during the registration of your service mark or trademark.

  • What name would you like to use on the registration application?
  • Will there be more than one owner?
  • What is the address of the owner of the mark?
  • What type of entity is the owner of the mark?
  • Describe the services or products that will have the mark?
  • What does the mark look like?
  • Has the look of the mark been finalized?
  • Are you trying to trademark the use of a specific color?
  • What type of product will utilize the mark? Examples include:
    • Advertising and business
    • Chemicals
    • Cleaning preparations
    • Clothing
    • Communication
    • Construction and repair
    • Cords and fibers
    • Cosmetics
    • Education and entertainment
    • Electrical apparatus
    • Environmental control apparatus
    • Fabric
    • Fancy goods
    • Firearms
    • Floor coverings
    • Furniture
    • Hand tools
    • Housewares and glass
    • Insurance and financial services
    • Jewelry
    • Leather goods
    • Light beverages
    • Lubricants and fuels
    • Machinery
    • Meats and processed foods
    • Medical apparatus
    • Metal goods
    • Musical instruments
    • Natural agricultural products
    • Non-metallic building materials
    • Paints
    • Paper goods or printed matter
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Rubber goods
    • Scientific apparatus
    • Smokers' articles
    • Staple foods
    • Toys and sporting goods
    • Transportation and storage
    • Vehicles
    • Wines and spirits
    • Yarns and threads
  • Has the mark been used in commerce?
  • What was the date that the mark was first displayed?
  • Has the mark been used in interstate commerce?
  • Has the mark been used in your state, another country, or another territory of the U.S.?
  • How will the mark be employed?
  • If you have not used the mark yet, do you plan on using it within the next six months?

There are certain questions that business owners should ask a trademark attorney when searching for a name or logo for their business . Many business owners worry that they will sound stupid asking basic questions about trademarks. However, clarifying any confusion upfront will only assist your attorney in effectively guiding you through the process. The following are some common questions to ask:

  • What exactly is a trademark?
  • Why should I register a trademark ?
  • What type of things am I able to trademark?
  • What is your advice to help choose a strong trademark?
  • How is a trademark description and class chosen?
  • What trademark specimen should I use for my trademark application ?
  • How much will it cost to register my trademark?
  • How can I protect my trademark once it has been registered?
  • What actions do I need to take in order to maintain my trademark registration?

To help you understand some of the key points surrounding trademarks, the following are some of the most common trademark questions and their answers.

  • What's the difference between a trade name and a trademark?
    • A trade name is a fictitious business name primarily used by a company that allows the company to operate under a name other than the legal, registered business. Sometimes this is referred to as a pseudonym. A trademark is utilized to identify specific services or products.
  • Do I need to register the exact legal name of my company with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)?
    • Most likely not. Typically, a legal name can't be registered as a trademark. To clarify, if a business owner has incorporated the entire legal name into the company logo, then that may be registered. However, the majority of companies will drop what are referred to as legal entity identifiers, such as "inc." or "corp." even if their trademark still reflects the company's legal name.
  • Is there terminology that is more protected than other terms?
    • Yes. Generic terms are never considered protectable trademarks. Marks must have what is deemed as acquired distinctiveness. This means that in order to function as a trademark, a word, symbol, logo, name, or other mark must be capable of identifying the source of the product or service and distinguishing it from other sources.
  • How long will it take to get a trademark?
    • On average it will take about 13 to 18 months to obtain a trademark.
  • Should I trademark the name of my business?
    • Generally, all businesses will benefit from trademarking. Although it is not typically a top priority for many companies, it is recommended that businesses trademark the name of their company as it guarantees protection at the federal level.

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