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  • 4 min
  • 10/04/2021

Registering a Trademark

by Jennifer Rabach

Registering a trademark to protect your business name, logo or slogan is an important step many businesses should take when starting a new business. In this blog, we’ll discuss the benefits of registering a trademark, how the registration process works, associated costs for registering a trademark, and how long a registration lasts.

Benefits of Registering a Trademark

It’s important to understand that you don’t have to register your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to receive trademark protection. Instead, you have the option of obtaining a common law trademark by using your trademark in your business.

Even though a common law trademark is an option for you, it doesn’t mean it’s the best one for you since registering a trademark has many advantages. These include:

  • Notifying the public that you have claimed ownership of the mark, this often helps prevent others from using it.
  • Creating a legal presumption that you own the mark and that you have the right to use it for the goods and services you indicated in your trademark application. This is important should the need arise to sue someone to enforce trademark rights.
  • Registered trademark owners have the ability to file a lawsuit in federal court to enforce their trademarks if need be.
  • A trademark registration in the US can be used as a basis for getting a trademark registration in another country.
  • You have the option to record your trademark registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service to prevent infringing goods from being imported into the US.
  • You have the right to use the registered trademark symbol, ®.
  • Additionally, all registered trademarks are listed in the USPTO’s online databases, which may deter others from using your mark.

Using the Symbols TM, SM, and ®

Each of the symbols associated with trademarks has a meaning that you should be aware of as a business owner.

The TM symbol alerts the public that you are claiming a trademark on whatever you have marked using the symbol. Keep in mind that anyone who claims they own a trademark can use the TM symbol, it is not necessary to register the trademark with the USPTO first.

Similarly, you can use the symbol SM, if you claim that you own a service mark. You can use either the TM or SM symbols even if the USPTO has refused your application to register the mark.

The same rules do not apply to using the registered trademark symbol ®. This symbol cannot be used unless your application has been approved by the USPTO and you have been issued a registration certificate. Filing a trademark registration application does not give you the right to use the registered trademark symbol.

This symbol can be used in connection with the goods or services you have identified in your trademark application. Your registration must be kept active to continue to use the registered trademark symbol. If it expires or you do not maintain it, you must use the TM or SM symbols instead.

How Long Does a Trademark Registration Last?

Trademark registrations last for 10 years and are renewable for additional 10-year periods. You must file maintenance documents with the USPTO in order to keep the registration alive. If you do not file the required documents on time, your trademark registration will be permanently canceled by the USPTO.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in between the fifth and sixth year after registration, you must file a Declaration of Continued Use/Excusable Nonuse of Mark in Commerce Under Section 8, as well as a specimen and fee

Then between the ninth and tenth year after registration, and every 10 years after that, you must file a Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse/ Application for Renewal Under Sections 8 and 9.

Filing a State Trademark Registration

In addition to federal trademark registration, it is also advisable to register your trademark with the state your business is located in. State trademark registration will provide you with additional protection in that state and can be useful if your goods or services are only offered in that state., Registration requirements vary from state to state.

**Disclaimer: The content used in the article is not to be used as legal advice and is for illustration and general informational purposes only. If you have questions about your particular situation, please contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

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