Trademark law is all about brand protection.
What is a trademark?
A trademark (or mark for short) is a distinctive word, phrase, logo, or graphic symbol that is used to identify the source of a product or service and distinguish your products or services from someone else’s.
When you think about trademarks for your business, think about branding. What name do your customers or clients recognize (i.e. Nike, McDonald’s, Apple)? How important is your logo for building your brand identity (i.e. Nike’s swoosh symbol, McDonald’s golden arches, Apple’s...well, apple)? Do you use any slogans that, when customers hear them, they should immediately think of your company (i.e. Just Do It, What’s in Your Wallet, Because You’re Worth It)?
Trademark law protects your business name, logo, or slogan by preventing others from using a “confusingly similar” trademark on “related goods or services” anywhere in the country.
What is the difference between a trademark and a copyright?
Trademark law is all about protecting consumers by distinguishing your goods and services from those of your competitors. The Copyright law protects original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. In simple terms, trademarks protect brand identity; copyrights protect content.
How do I trademark my name / logo / slogan?
(Note: There is an additional step for what are known as “intent to use” trademark applications. These applications require additional filings and fees and take longer to approve.)
Registering a trademark with the USPTO is a complex legal proceeding. The entire process can easily take 8-12 months or longer if the examining attorney or third parties raise legal objections.
Should I trademark my business name if it’s already registered with the state?
If you have already registered your LLC or other business entity, then you may be wondering whether you should also register your business name as a trademark. Creating a business with the Secretary of State only protects that name within the state. So if your business is Acme, LLC, then the Ohio Secretary of State will not allow another business to register under the name Acme. (However, the Secretary of State’s standards are much lower than the standards that apply to trademark registrations. For example, the Secretary of State would allow someone to register Akme, LLC.)
By registering a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, your trademark is protected nationwide. (And while the Ohio Secretary of State would allow a competitor to register, Akme, the USPTO would not because Akme is confusingly similar to Acme.) If your business is not limited geographically, then it’s important to register your business trademarks with the USPTO. Read more about Unregistered Trademarks.
In addition to having the exclusive right to use the trademark nationwide, registration provides a number of other important benefits:
How long does trademark protection last?
Trademark protection only applies if you continue to use the trademark in commerce. If you stop using the trademark to sell your goods or services, then you can lose your trademark rights.
In addition, you must file certain trademark maintenance paperwork on a regular basis. These filings are first due between the 5th and 6th anniversary of your trademark registration, and then every 10th anniversary.
Trademark Search and Likelihood of Registration Analysis:
Design Marks: $1,125 per mark
Standard Character Marks: $950
Trademark Registration: $1,050 per mark + $250 minimum USPTO fee per class
Responses to Complex Office Actions (i.e. likelihood of confusion rejections) is not included if you decline the trademark search. Attempting to register a trademark without first conducting a trademark search and analyzing the likelihood of registration is not recommended.
If, based on the trademark search results, we decide not to proceed with registration, the Firm is required to refund the registration portion of the fee.
Response to Complex Office Actions: $2,000
Extensions of Time: $250 + USPTO fee
Requests to Divide: $250 + USPTO fee per new application created
Statement of Use: $750 + USPTO fee
Trademark Monitoring Service: $1850/yr or $175/mo per mark
Includes initial Cease & Desist Letter to suspected infringers. Further pursuit of a trademark infringement case will require an hourly retainer.
5-Year Trademark Filings: $850 per mark
(Section 8 Declaration of Use and Section 15 Declaration of Incontestability)
+ $425 minimum USPTO Fees per class
10-Year Trademark Filings: $1,050 per mark
(Section 8 Declaration of Use and Section 9 Renewal)
+ $525 minimum USPTO Fees per class
Customs and Border Protection Registration: $400 per registration number +$190 CBP Registration Fee (per registration number and per class of goods for trademark registrations)
Fictitious Name Registration: $175 + $39 Secretary of State Fee
Fictitious Name Renewal: $75 + $25 Secretary of State Fee
IP Licensing Agreement: $3,900
Add HIPPA Business Associates Agreement: +$1,000
State Trademark Registration: $250 + $125 Secretary of State Fee
Trademark Assignment Agreement and Recording: $550 + $40 USPTO Fee / $25 Secretary of State Fee