A trademark demonstrates the exclusive right to use a specific mark in trade or commerce. The United States Patent and Trademark Office defines a mark as a symbol, design, word or name or any combination thereof. Although the right to use a trademarked name is established through legitimate use in business, national registration provides additional benefits such as the right to bring legal action against unauthorized use of the name.
Determine eligibility of the name for national trademark registration. A name is eligible for trademark registration based on its use in lawful commerce or trade between states or with a foreign country. Specifically, the name must appear on goods or products transported or sold, or used in the sale or advertising of a service.
Identify the type of trademark registration needed. If the name is used to render a service, then a service mark registration may be in order. Although the word “trademark” is a blanket term used to refer to service marks and trademarks, it technically pertains to the use of a name as it relates to a product and the former refers to the use of a name in providing a service. A scenario in which a service mark applies is a musical group that uses a name to advertise and sell tickets to a live performance. However, the application process to register on the national principal register is the same for both trademarks and service marks.
Search the Trademark Electronic Search System online database, or TESS, to make sure no one else has claimed the name as a trademark. Your search will locate previously registered trademarks, if any, as well as pending applications for registration.
Use the Trademark Electronic Application System, or TEAS, to complete and file a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office online. Your application fee will vary depending on factors such as how you file your application and how many classes you select.
Check on the status of your application with the online Trademark Application and Registration Retrieval system, or TARR, every 3 months. If the trademark office has taken any action on your application that requires a response, be sure to comply promptly.