Frequently asked questions
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a brand name which may be in the form of word, symbol, slogan, device, or a combination of these. This can also be in the form of smell, colour or design but has to be registrable and legally protectable. It is equally important for big businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups.
What is a service mark?
A mark, word, phrase, symbol, design or a combination thereof may be used to distinguish the services of one person from that of another, is often referred to as a service-mark.
What all can be included in a trademark?
Can I trademark my name?
Yes, you can. But your name must be widely recognized in commerce and must not be in conflict with any other trademark. Authors, actors and other widely known personalities sometimes get their personal names trademarked so that no one else can use their name for marketing products or for earning any kind of profits
Is it compulsory to register a trademark?
No, it is not mandatory. But it is advisable to obtain registration in order to protect your business interest and get priority in using that specific mark. Registration is an effective tool which empowers an owner to protect her mark and equips her with the capability to bring an action in the court of law in case of any infringement of the mark.
Which trademark symbol can I use, ®, TM, or SM?
How to obtain trademark registration?
The federal authority dealing with registration of trademarks in the USA is the USPTO. A trademark registration application is filed online through the TEAS (Trademark Electronic Application System) portal. The application includes details such as name and the entity type (individual, sole proprietor, corporation, partnership, LLC, or other) of the trademark owner, email address, depiction of the trademark, goods/services, relevant class, filing fee etc. After an application if filed with the required details, a filing date is assigned to it. The application is reviewed by the authority, as a result of which your proposed trademark may be provided registration.
How long is the process of trademark registration?
Once the application for registration is filed, a filing date is assigned to the applicant. The complete review of your application by the USPTO takes some time and one may expect to hear from them within 6 months or less of filing an application. If the proposed mark is found ineligible or not registrable, then the procedure may take few more months. Thus, it is advisable to always do thorough research and consult intellectual property attorneys before proceeding for registration.
Can I file a trademark application if I am currently not selling any products?
Do I have to be a US citizen to apply for and obtain federal trademark registration?
No. There is no such requirement. As per the USPTO, you are required to either have a domicile in the United States or a U.S.-licensed attorney to represent you in all trademark matters at the USPTO.
Is it compulsory to prepare a trademark search and risk analysis report?
It is not compulsory but highly advisable. A search and analysis of the proposed trademark is primarily conducted to know whether the mark is registrable legally and to analyze the strength of the proposed trademark. To know more about the need of extensive search, read our informative piece on the importance of search in trademarking.
Can the USPTO refuse to register my trademark?
What will the USPTO consider while reviewing my trademark registration application?
What is the benefit of trademark registration?
Once the registration is obtained for a mark, the owner gets the exclusive right to use such a mark with the federal registration symbol ®. The protection granted to the mark by way of registration may then be utilised further to obtain registration in other foreign countries. Registration is an effective tool which empowers an owner to protect her mark and equips her with the capability to bring an action in the court of law in case of any infringement of the mark.
How long does a trademark registration last?
What kind of trademarks are non-registrable?
Can I transfer ownership of my trademark?
Yes. If you are the owner of a registered trademark, you are allowed to transfer the trademark to any person. Your trademark is your intellectual property so you have the right to transfer it. Such a transfer is described as an "Assignment" which may be done through a written contract. When such transfers are made, the information must be conveyed to the USPTO.
What is a trademark specimen?
A specimen shows a trademark being used in real life in connection with goods/services described in the registration application. The goods/ services in respect of which a mark is required to be shown must be the goods/ services intended for public use or those present in the public domain. A clear picture of the proposed mark being used on the container of detergent powder(goods) would count as a proper specimen.
What is a statement of use/ Allegation of use?
A Statement of Use is filed when the application for registration with respect to a proposed Trademark is filed on the basis of an “Intent-To-Use”. This is a basis for filing for those trademarks which are not already being used in commerce and so, the applicant presents an intention to start using it. Thus, the USPTO demands a Statement of Use in order to make sure that the applicant has started using the proposed mark, thus, enabling it for registration.
How to check the current status of my trademark filing?
In order to check the status of your trademark application, you may visit http://tarr.uspto.gov/ and use the trademark serial number provided by the USPTO to know the status of your application.