A trademark is a word, symbol, design or phrase that is used to distinguish a product from other products produced by business competitors. Because it symbolizes the reputation of the product in the eyes of consumers, it has economic value. Trademark law grants the user of a trademark a legal mononoply on the right to exploit it for business purposes. You can trademark a slogan in much the same way as you would trademark a word, symbol or design. If you use it in commerce, trademark rights automatically attach. Registration, however, allows you to protect your trademark nationwide.
Select a slogan to trademark. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, your slogan must be "distinctive", not merely descriptive. It cannot be a simple generic statement of the appeal of your product, such as "Our food is delicious!"
Peform a trademark seach on the TESS system on the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (please see Resources section), to make sure no one else has already registered a slogan identical or similar to your desired slogan. Even if a similar or identical slogan has already been registered, you may be able to trademark it anyway if you use it for a different product category.
Use the Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual, published on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website, to classify the goods or services that your slogan will represent. Include products that may be represented by the trademark in the future, because you must amend your trademark application to apply your slogan to new products.
File a trademark application online using the Trademark Electronic Application System on the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The system prompts will guide you through the process. As of 2011, the fee is $325 per product category and can be paid online by credit or debit card. You will be issued a registration number so you can track the status of your application.
Check the status of your application using the TARR system on the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (please see Resources section).
Renew your trademark registration between the fifth and sixth year after registration, between the ninth and tenth year after registration and every ten years thereafter.
Tips & Warnings
You may seek international recognition of your trademark under the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
As long as your slogan does not infirnge anyone else's trademark rights, you may use it in commerce before registering it. In fact, prior use might expedite approval of your trademark application.
References & Resources
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Trademark Electronic Application System
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Basic Facts About Trademarks; October 2010
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Trademark FAQs; September 2010
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Start Here for First-Time Filers
- World Intellectual Property Organization: Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Accetable Identification of Goods and Services Manual
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Trademark Processing Fees
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Trademark Application and Registration Retrieval (TARR) System
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