Registering a trademark with the Florida Department of State (Division of Corporations) is less expensive and significantly easier than registering a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
How long does it take to register a trademark in Florida? Read on to find out.
Do I Necessarily Need to Register a Trademark for Legal Protection?
USPTO defines the term “trademark” as any word, phrase, symbol, design, or combination of these things used to identify the source of certain goods or services.
For example, if you see a bottle featuring Coca-Cola’s ® iconic logo, you will immediately associate that symbol with the brand. This automatic association is the key purpose of a trademark, which exists to:
- Identify a specific brand furnishing goods or services
- Legally protect the brand, and
- Safeguard the brand against counterfeiting and fraud
The right to use a trademark comes from its use in business, not the registration. Hence, it is possible to enforce an unregistered trademark – although not with the same level of legal protection granted to registered marks.
If you own a company conducting business exclusively within the state of Florida, registering with the Department of State offers a solid shield against infringement. Please note that a trademark registered at the state level is only recognizable in Florida.
Additionally, a Florida trademark is superseded by a federal trademark if one exists. In case of likelihood of confusion, the federal trademark will stand as the original mark.
Applying for a Registered Trademark in Florida
The first step to registering a trademark in Florida is to choose the trademark style and verify whether it is available. After a thorough search assisted by an experienced trademark attorney, you can download the application form from the Department of State’s official website.
Please note that a mark that creates a likelihood of confusion with a mark that has been trademarked before may result in a lawsuit for infringement.
Considering innocence of prior use is not an available defense, the best approach is to rely on expert legal advice to avoid potential headaches. The next step is to fill out the required forms and submit them to the Department of State with the applicable fee.
While filling out the forms, make sure to file the trademark under the name of the individual or company providing the goods or services. If the trademark owner is a business, the applicant must specify the business structure (e.g., corporation, limited liability company, etc.).
The application forms require a full description of the product or advertising materials that feature the trademark. It is fundamental to submit a proper drawing of the trademark with a specimen or a plan of intended use (e.g., brochures, website printouts, etc.).
How Long Does it Take to Register a Trademark in Florida? – The Verdict
Registering a trademark with the Florida Department of State requires less time and effort than applying for a federal trademark. The standard registration process for a trademark lasts up to six weeks in most cases.
After the registration is complete, the trademark lasts for five years. To renew the registered trademark, the owner must file for renewal at least six months before the expiration date.