The number of businesses offering similar products and services grows daily, and with that comes stiff competition. Apart from quality goods and services, what else can help you attract and retain customers? Have you considered registering a distinctive trademark or service mark? An impressive trademark or service mark remains embedded in people's minds, and with one, it is easy for customers to remember your business whenever they need your services or products.
Considering how vital a trademark or service mark is, you need to ensure it only belongs to your business, and also, you must follow the right procedure to register it.
Here are the steps you need to follow when registering a Trademark;
Find an Available Service Mark or Trademark
The law does not allow you to use a mark that belongs to another company. You can also not register one that confuses consumers, in the sense that it almost imitates that of another company. Therefore, before you settle on a mark, you need to make sure that what you have in mind is unique and not used by anyone else. However, keep in mind that finding out that you can use a particular trademark does not guarantee a successful registration. You must meet all other required qualifications to register a mark.
To check whether a service mark or a trademark can be yours, conduct a search on these three databases;
Trademark/Service Mark database
Business Registration Division database
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Trademark Electronic System (TESS)
Click here to read more on these databases.
Use the Mark
By law, you must use a trademark before you can register it. You are not allowed to register a trademark that you do not intend to use immediately. You can file the application but you will not be allowed to register until your trademark is in use. Using a trademark involves you placing it on tags, containers, or on the goods themselves. You use a service mark when you display it on advertisements. An acceptable specimen must be a real example of how you use your trademark in commerce.
To prove that a mark is in use, you must provide specimens.
Examples of specimens you can submit for a trademark include;
● A product with a tag showing the mark on it
● A catalog clearly showing purchasing details, the goods, and the mark.
● A clear photo of your goods on display with the picture showing the mark
Here are some specimens you can submit for a service mark;
● A letterhead showing the mark
● A business card with the mark
● A menu with the mark (if you are a restaurant)
Also, you have to make sure your trademark is being used in interstate commerce. Meaning doing business in more than one state. If you're doing business over the internet you meet this qualification.
File the Application
After you have the correct specimens, you can proceed to register your mark. The trademark application fee varies from $225-$275. Only one trademark may be filed per application. On top of that, you need to complete your application correctly. The USPTO clearly outlines the details you should include in the application apart from your name and address and a description of the mark. The application is filed electronically on the USPTO website.
Contact an attorney today to receive help with registering your trademark.
Also click here to download our Brand Protection E-book to learn more.