A trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.
- Distinguish your company from others
- Indicate the source of goods
- Distinguish your service from others
- Give permission or licensing rights to other
- Descriptive names that can’t be distinguished from those of other products
- Names that include a geographic location
- Generic names
- Deceptive names
- Proper names or likenesses without consent from the person
- Generic terms, phrases, or the like
- Government symbols or insignia
- Vulgar or disparaging words or phrases
- The likeness of a U.S. President, former or current
- Immoral, deceptive, or scandalous words or symbols
An office action is an official letter sent by the USPTO. In the Office Action a USPTO examining attorney lists any legal problems with your trademark or your application.
Typically six to nine months—if you’re already using your mark in commerce. The USPTO will send an approval, ask for additional info, or send a rejection along with an Office action that requires a response within 6 months. Once your trademark application is filed, it is assigned to a USPTO examination agent within three months. CLICK HERE for the USPTO timeline related to the trademark application process.
Many companies use their names as a brand. Other companies may prefer to use their corporate names in a more limited manner, and eventually may change their relatively unknown corporate name to match their well known brand. Where a company name is used as a trademark, it is desirable to obtain a Federal trademark registration.
While some people still insist that a domain name is only a website address, we would argue that the protection of dot.com brands can be consistent with the principles of trademark law — if they are used as trademarks. Domain names given consistent emphasis as product, service or business identifiers, will receive the greatest degree of protection.
Twitter user names often signify businesses whose tweets are used for marketing and support. This usage creates the potential for conflicts with businesses already using the same or similar names. Twitter does not (yet) have a process for trademark owners to block user names and instead grants user names to the first person or company to apply for them. Registration on Twitter is free, so you may wish to register your company name as a Twitter user name to prevent others from doing so. It is a good idea to use the account periodically after registering, because inactive user names may be deleted.
- Any time you claim rights in a mark, you can use TM (trademark) or SM (service mark) to alert the public to your claim. You do not have to register a mark before you start using TM or SM.
- The ® is the symbol used for federal registration. You can only use ® if your mark is actually registered at the federal level with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
12. I use a slogan to advertise my company’s services. Should I register the slogan as a service mark, or should I copyright it?
- Federal copyright law protects an original artistic or literary work, such as a sculpture, play, or musical recording. Generally, short phrases and slogans are not considered “works” and are not covered by copyright. For more information on copyrights, you can visit the United States Copyright Office.
- If your slogan is distinctive and serves to identify the source of your goods or services, then you might be able to register it as a trademark or service mark.
- Whoever owns a mark can apply to register it. A mark can be owned by an individual, a partnership, an incorporated business entity, or another legal entity.
- Generally, a mark is owned by the individual, partnership, or other organization that offers the relevant goods or services. If a business entity, such as a limited liability company, provides the goods or services under a mark, the business entity owns the mark; an individual owner of that business entity does not own the mark.
14. My logo always appears in a certain color scheme. Can I make that color scheme part of my registered mark?
You can, but you do not have to. If you claim any color as part of the mark, then you must describe the color(s) in your description of the mark and provide at least one specimen that is in color and matches the colors, as claimed.
15. What is a specimen? Do I really have to send in three specimens? Will a photograph or photocopy work?
A specimen is an actual sample of how you use the mark in Texas commerce. Acceptable specimens for trademarks include actual tags or labels affixed to goods, actual tags or labels affixed to containers of the goods, packaging, photographs showing that the mark is displayed directly on the goods themselves, or photographs showing the mark in point-of-sale displays. Acceptable specimens for service marks include flyers, newspaper ads, screen shots from web pages, and other actual advertising that makes a clear reference to the services.
16. My application was rejected because my proposed mark is “merely descriptive.” What does that mean?
A mark must distinguish the goods or services provided by one source from the goods and services provided by another source. In order to fulfill this source-indicating function, a mark must be distinctive.