Do you have an idea for a new trade name, brand, or logo for your business? Do you have a new product line that you want to protect? Our Miami Trademark Lawyers will help you prepare, file and obtain your trademark before the United States Trademark Office.
Is a Trademark Application Right for You?
Trademarks, patents, copyrights, domain names, and business name registrations all differ, so it is important to learn whether a trademark is appropriate for you.
A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services. A patent protects an invention. A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work.
For example, if you invent a new kind of vacuum cleaner, you would apply for a patent to protect the invention itself. You would apply to register a trademark to protect the brand name of the vacuum cleaner. And you might register a copyright for the TV commercial that you use to market the product.
A domain name is part of a web address that links to the internet protocol address (IP address) of a particular website. For example, in the web address “https://jflawfirm.com,” the domain name is “jflawfirm.com.” You register your domain name with an accredited domain name registrar, not through the USPTO. A domain name and a trademark differ. A trademark identifies goods or services as being from a particular source. Use of a domain name only as part of a web address does not qualify as source-indicating trademark use, though other prominent use apart from the web address may qualify as trademark use. Registration of a domain name with a domain name registrar does not give you any trademark rights.
For example, even if you register a certain domain name with a domain name registrar, you could later be required to surrender if it infringes someone else’s trademark rights.
Similarly, use of a business name does not necessarily qualify as trademark use, though other use of a business name as the source of goods or services might qualify it as both a business name and a trademark. Many states and local jurisdictions register business names, either as part of obtaining a certificate to do business or as an assumed name filing.
For example, in a state where you will be doing business, you might file documents (typically with a state corporation or state division of corporations) to form a business entity, such as a corporation or limited liability company.
Selecting a Mark to Trademark
Once you determine that the type of protection you need is, in fact, trademark protection, then selecting a mark is the very first step in the overall application/registration process. This must be done with thought and care because not every mark is registrable with the USPTO. Nor is every mark legally protectable, that is, some marks may not be capable of serving as the basis for a legal claim by the owner seeking to stop others from using a similar mark on related goods or services. Businesses and individuals new to trademarks and the application/registration process often choose a mark for their product or service that may be difficult or even impossible to register and/or protect for various reasons. Before filing a trademark/service mark application, you should consider:
- Whether the mark you want to register is registrable, and
- How difficult it will be to protect your mark based on the strength of the mark selected.
Mark Format – You must identify your mark format: a standard character mark, a stylized/design mark, or a sound mark.
Identification of Goods and/or Services – It is critical you identify clearly the precise goods and/or services to which the mark will apply.
Searching – Always search the USPTO database to determine whether anyone is already claiming trademark rights in wording/design that is similar and used on related goods/services through a federal registration.
Filing Basis – Before filing an application, you must know what your “basis” for filing is.
Trademark Attorney – Because all of the above are very important, you should hire a Miami Trademark Lawyer to help you with these steps, as well as the overall application process.