The Trademark Application Process: An Overview
Understanding the Trademark Application Process
Trademarks are a valuable asset to any business. However, obtaining one can seem confusing if you’ve never applied before. However, it’s important to educate yourself. Understanding the trademark application process can help you better understand how to register successfully.
Step One: Selecting Your Mark
The trademark process begins by selecting a strong trademark. First, you’ll want to check to see if someone’s beaten you to the punch and registered your mark already. This drastically reduces your chances of facing an infringement claim. The USPTO’s rules for trademarks are strict. More advice on selecting a strong mark can be found here.
Step Two: The Trademark Application
Next comes the trademark application itself, which can be found on the USPTO’s website. It requires the mark’s basic information, such as its owner, its format, and a description of the good or service. The filing fee ranges from $225 to $400 depending on the type of application. Be careful – the fee is nonrefundable. For better chances at registration, an attorney can fill and file the application for you.
Step Three: The Examination Period
If your application meets the minimum requirements, then your trademark enters the examination period. This is when a USPTO attorney reviews your mark. This can take several months, depending on the application. During your examination period, there’s a good chance that you’ll receive a letter from the USPTO known as an “Office Action” requesting more information about your mark.
Step Four: Office Actions
Office actions can be either substantive or non-substantive. Non-substantive actions are easier to resolve and usually involve missing information or procedural errors. Substantive issues, on the other hand, arise when a trademark is too similar to a preexisting mark or otherwise fails to meet the USPTO’s criteria.
Just because you receive a substantive Office Action doesn’t mean that you should lose hope. After all, they’re usually not outright rejections. An experienced trademark attorney can help advocate for your mark and increase its chances of registration.
Step Five: Opposition Period
Once the examining attorney approves your trademark, the USPTO publishes it in the Trademark Official Gazette for 30 days, known as the opposition period. For these 30 days, any person or business who believes that your mark causes them harm or infringes on their rights can file a Notice of Opposition. This will pause your application until the opposition proceeding is complete.
Step Six: Registration Complete
If no objections are raised against your mark, then your application will enter its final phase, and your work here will be done. Registration is usually completed about 12 weeks after the end of the Opposition Period. A certificate confirming this should arrive in the mail. However, there’s more to protecting your intellectual property than completing the application. You’ll need to file regularly with the USPTO and keep your mark “active” to enjoy the full benefits of registration.