Registering a trademark

Obtaining trademark protection for your company name, logo, or catchphrases is crucial for preserving your creative output. Learn how to get going with this simple overview of the registration process, including how much it costs, how long it takes, and other details.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does not require trademark registration in order to provide trademark protection. Simply by utilizing your brand in your business, you can establish common law trademark rights.

However, registration has several important advantages:

  • Registration lets the public know that you’re the mark’s owner. This could make people less likely to use it.
  • The legal presumption that you own the mark and have the authorization to use it for the products and services indicated in your trademark application is created by registration. This may be crucial if you ever have to file a lawsuit to defend your trademark rights.
  • In order to enforce their rights, registered trademark owners may bring a case in federal court.
  • A trademark registration in the United States may serve as the foundation for registration in another nation.To stop counterfeit items from being imported, you can file a trademark registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service.
  • Registered trademark owners have the right to use the registered trademark symbol, ®.
  • Registered trademarks are listed in the USPTO’s online databases. This may deter others from using your mark.

Using the symbols TM, SM, and ®

When anything is marked with the symbol TM, it lets people know that you are claiming a trademark on it. Anyone claiming to be the owner of a trademark may use the TM sign; the trademark does not need to be registered with the USPTO. Similarly, you may use the sign SM to indicate that you are the owner of a service mark. Even if the USPTO rejects your application to register your mark, you may still use these symbols.

A registered trademark is identified by the circle-R symbol ®.

  • Prior to the USPTO approving your application and issuing you a registration certificate, you are not permitted to use the ® symbol. A trademark registration application alone does not provide you permission to use the symbol ®.
  • You must maintain your registration valid to continue using the registered trademark symbol.
  • You may only use the ® sign in connection with the products or services listed in your trademark application. If your registration expires or you fail to keep it up to date, you cannot use the symbol.

The TM, SM, and ® marks can be positioned anywhere on the mark; however, most businesses choose to do so in the top right corner.

How long does a trademark registration last?

Trademark registrations are valid for 10 years and are renewed for successive 10-year periods, but to maintain the registration, you must submit maintenance paperwork to the USPTO. Your trademark registration will be terminated permanently if the necessary paperwork is not submitted on time.

  • You must submit a Declaration of Continued Use/Excusable Nonuse of Mark in Commerce Under Section 8 together with a specimen and fee between the fifth and sixth years following registration.
  •  You must submit a Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse/Application for Renewal Under Sections 8 and 9 between the ninth and tenth year following registration, and then every 10 years after that.

State trademark registration

You can register your trademark with the state where your company is situated in addition to the federal government. When your products or services are exclusively available in that state, state trademark registration is helpful in protecting your brand there. However, it lacks the federal registration’s global reach.