As many marketing professionals know, branding is an essential part to building
a successful business identity. As an entrepreneur or business professional, it
is important to protect your corporate name or the name of your goods and
services by registering your trademark. While registering a trademark does not
require an attorney, when doing so you must comply with all requirement of the
trademark statute and rules, making it a very exact and detail oriented
process. That is why many knowledgeable professionals and savvy business owners
turn to online services to register their trademark for a dependable, accurate
and hassle-free solution.
What is a Trademark?
First let's define a trademark (or "mark") as any word, term, name, design,
slogan, symbol or other distinctive item that serves to identify a specific
product brand. It is used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of
one manufacturer or seller from another, and to indicate the source of the
What Marks the Spot?
A trademark or service mark uses of the designations "TM" or "SM"
respectively. These designations usually indicate that a party claims rights in
the mark and are often used before a federal registration is issued. Only once
a trademark is actually registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is
it proper to use the federal registration symbol (the letter R enclosed within
a circle - ®). Even though an application is pending, the registration symbol
may not be used before the mark has actually become registered.
A Trademark Establishes Rights
Lets look at some of the advantages that are gained by federal trademark
The right to put the registration notice "®" after the mark, which notifies
others of your trademark registration
Provides access to federal courts
Deters use of the mark by others
Protects the registrant's ability to expand its use of the mark nationally
Allows the registrant to stop the importation of goods that use infringing
marks. Also if the mark is kept in continuous use for five years after the
registration date, the registrant reserves the right to immunize the mark from
certain infringement actions.
The Search Is On
The trademark process begins with a search of the federal trademark database
for direct conflicts. Because millions of new businesses, products and services
are created each year, conflicts between trademarks, even those that may appear
to be original or unique, are extremely common. While it is not necessary to
hire an attorney to file a trademark application, it is often a good idea to
have an attorney review the results of a trademark search since many marks can
be considered "confusingly similar” and should be analyzed in the context of
trademark law. Some online services will have trademark attorneys carefully
analyze your search results and provide a written opinion for an additional
Owners of trademarks are entitled to bring infringement suits against others for
the use of identical or confusingly similar marks. Successful infringement
actions can force the losing party to stop using the offending trademark. It is
therefore extremely important to conduct a thorough trademark search prior to
using a particular mark. Online services offer comprehensive federal/state and
common-law searches so you can rest assured that your trademark is unique and
you can then move forward to the next step of preparing your application for
submission with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Costs to Consider
Online trademark search services can cost from $75 to $500 depending
on if you purchase a standard search on the federal/state level or a
comprehensive one to one that includes a common law search to the most costly
which includes all of the afore mentioned as well as an international search.
The fee to prepare a federal trademark application can range from $149 to $349
depending on the services provided additional to preparing the application. The
USPTO application fee of $335 is separate fee from the application preparation.
The same basic services from an attorney can cost upwards of $1000.
How Long Will This Take?
You can expect to spend 10 to 30 minutes filling out forms if
registering your trademark online. Most services will allow you save your work
and come back later so all the information does not have to be inputted in one
sitting. Most search and registration services can be completed within 3-4 days
and some online services can complete the process within 24 hours with rush
Trademark Registration Fast, Easy and Smart
Many companies that offer online trademark registration provide their
clients with a 100% satisfaction guarantee on their services, available
customer service and legal document reviewers that examine your information for
completeness and other common errors. Just as each trademark is unique, the
diversity of services offered by online companies is immense. For a complete
listing of reviewed sites that offer trademark registration services online and
how they compare as far as ease of use, price, specific services offered and
customer service please click here .
Federal/state and common-law
What Is The Difference Between A Federal/State Trademark Search and a Common Law
Federal and state trademark searches scan for identical or "confusingly similar"
marks in both the federal register and the registers of each state. Common law
searches seek out all instances of actual use of a trademark,
regardless of whether the mark has been registered. It must be remembered that
first use of a trademark establishes its ownership in a particular geographic
region. As a result, even if a particular mark has been registered with state
or federal governments, it could not be used if another company has common law
rights to that mark within a certain geographic region. This could preclude the
use of a desired mark in large regions of the country, including large
metropolitan areas. Consequently, any company that desires to expand in the
future, or market itself on the Internet, should invest in a common law search,
in addition to Federal and state searches.